Author Topic: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment  (Read 4862 times)

RBC

Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« on: November 05, 2021, 11:10:17 PM »
Just found this interesting experiment. An author has serialized her book but releases it in a newsletter rather than other platforms (then posts them later):

https://ellegriffin.substack.com/

Her premise is that subscription will pay more than either trad pub or self-pub.
Quote
As I outline in this article, if an author sells 1,000 copies of a book, she will earn:

$2,250 if published traditionally

$4,200 if self-published

$108,000 if published as a serial

As 96 percent of books published sell less than 1,000 copies, I decided to try the latter option. After all, as the going wisdom states: it only takes 1,000 true fans spending $100/year for a creator to earn a salary of $100,000/year. Theoretically then, an author could release a new chapter every week, charge subscribers $8 or $9 a month, and earn $100,000 a year—from only 1,000 readers. This idea deeply appeals to me because some of my favorite novels were written as serials—including my beloved The Count of Monte Cristo—and they were wildly successful.

Not sure how it's working, but it's interesting experiment and she charges $50 per year for weekly novel release or $200 per year (for those who want to a signed hardback copy). It seems she is getting readers and has subscribers. If her idea works out, it would be an awesome thing. It's a 1000 True Fans theory play. And theoretically an author could just release chapters as they write every week, and then release book to Amazon (she does it two months later it seems). And released book then can bring in some subscribers, thus creating a flywheel for growing the newsletter.

If anyone has experience or ideas share them here. Or maybe this can just serve as inspiration or case study.

« Last Edit: November 06, 2021, 03:48:36 AM by RBC »
 
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Post-Crisis D

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2021, 11:16:32 PM »
I have been planning a similar idea, but $50/year seems rather steep for a single novel or even a couple novels.  At that rate, why wouldn't most readers opt for an Amazon or other subscription where they would have a wider variety and larger number of books to read?
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TimothyEllis

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Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2021, 11:21:40 PM »
The self publish price being used is $5.99, which seems high.

If the author doesn't have a 1000 fans, none of those totals are realistic.

Any mention of how many words being released a week? And how many actual books per year?

Every time I see figures like this being bandied about, I wonder what crystal ball they were plucked out of.
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RBC

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2021, 11:37:22 PM »
I have been planning a similar idea, but $50/year seems rather steep for a single novel or even a couple novels.  At that rate, why wouldn't most readers opt for an Amazon or other subscription where they would have a wider variety and larger number of books to read?

Because it's the so-called 'True Fan' not an average reader. This isn't for the masses to subscribe to, they do as you say for sure. This is more the fan club that gets exclusive pre-release book before others, and a way to let readers contribute more to the author. We all have some people or causes we logically don't need to spend more on, but do. 

She can also add different benefits and grow subscription with different tiers. Basically, a different Patreon version here focused on emails.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2021, 12:09:45 AM by RBC »
 

RBC

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2021, 12:08:29 AM »
The self publish price being used is $5.99, which seems high.

If the author doesn't have a 1000 fans, none of those totals are realistic.

Any mention of how many words being released a week? And how many actual books per year?

Every time I see figures like this being bandied about, I wonder what crystal ball they were plucked out of.

Haven't seen the word count or book count yet. Will share if I find.

And yeah, nothing is realistic with no fans... Those numbers seem pretty reasonable tho with $9/mth at 1000 people is $108,000.

It would take multiple years of course to get there from scratch. But for those who already have multiple books out and would want to write serials, this is an avenue to consider. The math doesn't even need to be 100% correct, the model is correct and each author's royalties will differ anyway. This is just another take on Kevin Kelly's original 1000 True Fans theory.

Still, at the end of the day it doesn't matter how long it takes to get to 1000 paying fans if author wants to write for the rest of their life.


$5.99 is definitely high, but it's probably chosen to be closer/fairer comparison with trad pub price. Or she just doesn't want to go cheap in general. Which is her fair choice.


On interesting note, here are the most earning newsletters, which the author is inspired by:
https://guzey.com/substack-earnings/
Some crazy numbers there.
 

LilyBLily

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2021, 12:13:19 AM »
It's an interesting idea, but even many true fans are incredibly cheap or have strapped finances. Just look at who is earning a living on Patreon versus who is netting, say, $30 a month. This from fans who devour hours and hours of free entertainment provided by the podcaster or YouTuber or whatever. They don't give back, and that's the nasty truth. 

If this author can pull it off, more power to her. I don't think even my most rabid fans (and I do have a few) would lay out the kind of cash she's talking about.

However, on a smaller scale, it might work, but then again, we've trained our newsletter peeps to expect free stuff. In my own experience, only a relatively small percentage of my newsletter list bothers to collect the freebies I have offered them. Assume that a response would be in the single digits percentage-wise. Maybe as low as 1% or 2%, maybe as high as 8%. These are fantastic numbers in the ad business, BTW, but authors expect much higher numbers.

So say you have a 5k newsletter list and they are all engaged readers (as opposed to contest entrants who signed up but don't read your books). Four hundred people max sign up. How are you going to earn a living on 400 sales even at $5.99 and keeping every cent? You aren't. Can you make these people pay $50 a year? That's $20k for you, and you're earning min wage and have committed to sending them new episodes at least weekly. Say it's a 100k novel, so they get 2k words a week for 50 weeks. And you have become an indentured servant to your story. At min wage.

The only way I can see this working is if you delay the eventual publication of the story by a year and if you have rabid fans who will pay eight times the eventual cover price just to read the story right now, in pieces. Who among us has fans so rabid?

Can you get all 5k of your newsletter peeps to pony up? Not a chance.   
 

RBC

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2021, 12:17:04 AM »
Nice to see others doing it well:

Deverell’s pen name is Shirtaloon and he earns $28,532 a month from his Patreon supporters. Readers can choose whether they want to read his chapters one week ahead ($1/month), two weeks ahead ($5/month), or four weeks ahead ($10/month) of Royal Road. He also has pricing tiers at $15, $20, and $50 a month which have no additional benefit except supporting an author they love—and fans pay it.
 

Hopscotch

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2021, 12:41:42 AM »
An old idea using modern commo tools may work well for a writer who has developed a large True Fan base.  But am I wrong to suspect (based on what I read in WS) that such a fan base exists only in a few limited genre?
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Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2021, 12:43:36 AM »
An old idea using modern commo tools may work well for a writer who has developed a large True Fan base.  But am I wrong to suspect (based on what I read in WS) that such a fan base exists only in a few limited genre?

It would have to be a fan base with no KU people on it.

KU readers are not going to pay a second subscription.
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RBC

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2021, 12:46:26 AM »
It's an interesting idea, but even many true fans are incredibly cheap or have strapped finances. Just look at who is earning a living on Patreon versus who is netting, say, $30 a month. This from fans who devour hours and hours of free entertainment provided by the podcaster or YouTuber or whatever. They don't give back, and that's the nasty truth. 

If this author can pull it off, more power to her. I don't think even my most rabid fans (and I do have a few) would lay out the kind of cash she's talking about.

However, on a smaller scale, it might work, but then again, we've trained our newsletter peeps to expect free stuff. In my own experience, only a relatively small percentage of my newsletter list bothers to collect the freebies I have offered them. Assume that a response would be in the single digits percentage-wise. Maybe as low as 1% or 2%, maybe as high as 8%. These are fantastic numbers in the ad business, BTW, but authors expect much higher numbers.

So say you have a 5k newsletter list and they are all engaged readers (as opposed to contest entrants who signed up but don't read your books). Four hundred people max sign up. How are you going to earn a living on 400 sales even at $5.99 and keeping every cent? You aren't. Can you make these people pay $50 a year? That's $20k for you, and you're earning min wage and have committed to sending them new episodes at least weekly. Say it's a 100k novel, so they get 2k words a week for 50 weeks. And you have become an indentured servant to your story. At min wage.

The only way I can see this working is if you delay the eventual publication of the story by a year and if you have rabid fans who will pay eight times the eventual cover price just to read the story right now, in pieces. Who among us has fans so rabid?

Can you get all 5k of your newsletter peeps to pony up? Not a chance.   

No one's saying it's easy. :) Definitely, not the whole email list will convert to this kind of subscription. Separate avenue really. Email list joiners aren't necessarily true fans. Nor you're limited to the income from subscriptions, you sell the book too normally on Amazon. It's another income source, not a single income source.

I wouldn't focus so much on the negative tho. Those who don't join don't matter, those who do, do. Even if it's a 100 subs, it's few grand to pay for future book stuff like covers, editing etc. Normal sales can add other revenue etc.

Nor you'd need to delay launch for that long, if at all. You could write and publish a chapter the same week. Totally depends on speed of writing of a person. Anyone could write 4 chapters first and then release them weekly. That gives 3 weeks of space to write next. It might even be a good motivation for those struggling with writing, maybe having an actually deadline and real readers actually waiting for it would be good kick in the butt to sit down and create. Not for everyone of course. But it can work out cuz nothing here is an extraordinary effort or system. :)

 

RBC

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2021, 12:50:14 AM »
An old idea using modern commo tools may work well for a writer who has developed a large True Fan base.  But am I wrong to suspect (based on what I read in WS) that such a fan base exists only in a few limited genre?

Yup, definitely that.

But it's not about the genre. All readers have their favorites and could be willing to spend more on that one author while being completely cheapskate on others. Could be harder in some genres, but not impossible. It's all about the person making it work, not 'if it can work'. :)

 

Hopscotch

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2021, 01:16:57 AM »
It's all about the person making it work, not 'if it can work'.

It would have to be a fan base with no KU people on it.

Hats off to Elle Griffin - I hope her plan works well for her and proves a model for the rest of us.  But RBC is correct in that she's selling celebrity - in the form of bright chat w/her readers (which can overcome Tim's concern) - as much as her novel.  Wish I were writer enough to do the same!
« Last Edit: November 06, 2021, 01:19:57 AM by Hopscotch »
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RBC

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2021, 02:07:58 AM »
It's all about the person making it work, not 'if it can work'.

It would have to be a fan base with no KU people on it.

Hats off to Elle Griffin - I hope her plan works well for her and proves a model for the rest of us.  But RBC is correct in that she's selling celebrity - in the form of bright chat w/her readers (which can overcome Tim's concern) - as much as her novel.  Wish I were writer enough to do the same!

If you have books out, you are already a celebrity to somebody out there! ;)
 

Lorri Moulton

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2021, 02:26:15 AM »
PJ talking about social media and engagement...this is one reason.  An engaged fan base can open up a lot of opportunities.

Author of Romance, Fantasy, Fairytales, Mystery & Suspense, and Historical Non-Fiction @ Lavender Cottage Books
 
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TimothyEllis

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Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2021, 02:27:52 AM »
An engaged fan base can open up a lot of opportunities.

How do you tell if they're engaged or not?
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Post-Crisis D

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2021, 02:30:43 AM »
On interesting note, here are the most earning newsletters, which the author is inspired by:
https://guzey.com/substack-earnings/
Some crazy numbers there.

Most, if not all, of those appear to be news or political content.  Are there any fiction authors making big numbers like that?
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Post-Crisis D

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2021, 02:31:17 AM »
An engaged fan base can open up a lot of opportunities.

How do you tell if they're engaged or not?

If they open their checkbooks, they're engaged.
Mulder: "If you're distracted by fear of those around you, it keeps you from seeing the actions of those above."
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TimothyEllis

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Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2021, 02:36:48 AM »
An engaged fan base can open up a lot of opportunities.

How do you tell if they're engaged or not?

If they open their checkbooks, they're engaged.

I haven't used a cheque book in 2 decades now. I don't understand why anyone still does.

How do you know before that?
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Post-Crisis D

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2021, 02:37:37 AM »
Probably, it's going to be mostly outliers that will be successful at this.  For most authors, I suspect it would end up being another time suck that doesn't generate enough income to justify the extra time spent putting it together.

On the upside, the long term effect could be getting readers accustomed to buying direct from the authors.  Granted, in this case, it is through Substack, but as more tools become available, I could see (hope) this one day turning into a situation where authors could sell books and/or subscriptions directly from their websites and cut out Amazon and others.

Because, if you look at it, if you are buying Google/Facebook ads, those ads could just as easily point to your own website rather than a third-party seller like Amazon.  At this point, Amazon is little more than a payment processor for our books and they are taking a rather large chunk of money for it.  Depending on the price of your book and region, Amazon is taking anywhere between 30-70%.  If you use AMS ads, then they are effectively taking more money from you.  And, add in delivery fees, and they take even more.

Anyway, I hope cutting out third party sellers is where this will eventually lead.
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RBC

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2021, 02:59:15 AM »
On interesting note, here are the most earning newsletters, which the author is inspired by:
https://guzey.com/substack-earnings/
Some crazy numbers there.

Most, if not all, of those appear to be news or political content.  Are there any fiction authors making big numbers like that?

Yeah, that's just a sidenote. Patreon has more successful fiction authors I'd assume. Substack is still newer and less common.
 
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Hopscotch

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2021, 03:00:09 AM »
I hope cutting out third party sellers is where this will eventually lead.

Perhaps a coop-style Indie E-Book of the Month Club?
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RBC

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2021, 03:05:57 AM »
Probably, it's going to be mostly outliers that will be successful at this.  For most authors, I suspect it would end up being another time suck that doesn't generate enough income to justify the extra time spent putting it together.

On the upside, the long term effect could be getting readers accustomed to buying direct from the authors.  Granted, in this case, it is through Substack, but as more tools become available, I could see (hope) this one day turning into a situation where authors could sell books and/or subscriptions directly from their websites and cut out Amazon and others.

Because, if you look at it, if you are buying Google/Facebook ads, those ads could just as easily point to your own website rather than a third-party seller like Amazon.  At this point, Amazon is little more than a payment processor for our books and they are taking a rather large chunk of money for it.  Depending on the price of your book and region, Amazon is taking anywhere between 30-70%.  If you use AMS ads, then they are effectively taking more money from you.  And, add in delivery fees, and they take even more.

Anyway, I hope cutting out third party sellers is where this will eventually lead.

Yes everyone wont make bank with it but I can't call being in a more engaged and personal relationship to fans a time suck. You must reward your best fans and most loyal ones. If they show more love and support they deserve a VIP treatment. This works perfectly to 80/20 principle. Small amount of people will provide the most support. :)
 
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RBC

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2021, 03:28:44 AM »
FYI, on October 3rd she had 28 subscribers:

Better yet, there are now 28 people who are in it with me—reading my chapters as they come out and sharing some camaraderie with me in the comments section of my newsletter and my private little Discord community—and in the case of my family members, via text. I certainly wouldn’t have any of that on Amazon—I wouldn’t even know who was buying my book, much less enjoying it.

Safe to assume few more have joined. Some have joined the more expensive tier already from those 28. Very cool.
 

Post-Crisis D

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #23 on: November 06, 2021, 03:30:24 AM »
Yes everyone wont make bank with it but I can't call being in a more engaged and personal relationship to fans a time suck. You must reward your best fans and most loyal ones. If they show more love and support they deserve a VIP treatment. This works perfectly to 80/20 principle. Small amount of people will provide the most support. :)

Whoa.  Whoa.  Whoa.    I have not said anything to cast aspersions on interacting with readers.  Many authors are already doing so through their existing platforms, whether it be their newsletters or Facebook or whatever.

What I am saying that going through the process of setting all this up, formatting/uploading chapters, managing bonuses/extras/whatever, etc. could be a huge time suck for most authors while generating negligible extra income.
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Lorri Moulton

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2021, 03:31:40 AM »
FYI, on October 3rd she had 28 subscribers:

Better yet, there are now 28 people who are in it with me—reading my chapters as they come out and sharing some camaraderie with me in the comments section of my newsletter and my private little Discord community—and in the case of my family members, via text. I certainly wouldn’t have any of that on Amazon—I wouldn’t even know who was buying my book, much less enjoying it.

Safe to assume few more have joined. Some have joined the more expensive tier already from those 28. Very cool.

RBC, play to your strengths!  If you want to try it, go for it. 
When someone succeeds, it's suddenly a great idea!  :dog1:

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RBC

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2021, 03:38:52 AM »
FYI, on October 3rd she had 28 subscribers:

Better yet, there are now 28 people who are in it with me—reading my chapters as they come out and sharing some camaraderie with me in the comments section of my newsletter and my private little Discord community—and in the case of my family members, via text. I certainly wouldn’t have any of that on Amazon—I wouldn’t even know who was buying my book, much less enjoying it.

Safe to assume few more have joined. Some have joined the more expensive tier already from those 28. Very cool.

RBC, play to your strengths!  If you want to try it, go for it. 
When someone succeeds, it's suddenly a great idea!  :dog1:


I'm not an author so I wont but I love to share these different possible things for more authors to see. Maybe someone here will benefit from it. ;)
 
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Wonder

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #26 on: November 06, 2021, 05:53:09 AM »
I always enjoy seeing what other authors are up to! Thanks for sharing it. Now, speaking with my reader hat on, I think it's nuts. We're talking about $50 for a book, and more than that, $50 for a book dribbled out slowly. Nothing about that is attractive to me as a reader.

I mean, I love almost everything Stephen King writes, but even he isn't getting $100/yr from me. She may *want* that kind of money from her superfans, but she's offered nothing (in my opinion) that would make me hand it over, even if she was my favorite author.

Quote
After all, as the going wisdom states: it only takes 1,000 true fans spending $100/year for a creator to earn a salary of $100,000/year. Theoretically then, an author could release a new chapter every week, charge subscribers $8 or $9 a month, and earn $100,000 a year—from only 1,000 readers.

Theoretically, sure. But as a reader, what's in it for me?
 

Hopscotch

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #27 on: November 06, 2021, 06:27:59 AM »
We're talking about $50 for a book, and more than that, $50 for a book dribbled out slowly. Nothing about that is attractive to me as a reader.

I think what she's offering is community.  Paying to join a virtual readers club around her books no different than paying to join a social club.  Her third serialized book will show if it can be sustained and modeled by others.
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Jeff Tanyard

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #28 on: November 06, 2021, 07:32:32 AM »
Now, speaking with my reader hat on, I think it's nuts. We're talking about $50 for a book, and more than that, $50 for a book dribbled out slowly. Nothing about that is attractive to me as a reader.


Same here.  And it's only fifty bucks at five bucks a month for a book that's wrapped up in ten months.  At a subscription price of ten bucks a month, and for a book that takes a whole year to complete, we're talking a total of $120 for a single novel.  The only way I would ever pay that kind of money for a book is if it's something like a leather bound version of The Lord of the Rings.  But that kind of coin for digital?  No way.

In the science fiction genre, where readers are notoriously stingy with their money, only someone on the level of Hugh Howey could pull this off.  But with the money he's already making, why would he want to hitch himself to all this extra work?  Well, he wouldn't, except perhaps as an experiment or a lark or something.  When you can already make six or seven or eight figures while doing little or nothing at all, it doesn't make sense to do a bunch of work to make another hundred grand.  He can make the same or better by writing novels and short stories at his leisure without having to adhere to any deadline or "engage" with people.

Dan mentioned politics/non-fiction, and I suspect that's the best way to go if you want to pursue this model.  If I was going to do this, it would be a politics/history site under a new pen name.

Having sufficiently rained on his parade, I'd like to mitigate that by adding that I appreciate RBC for starting this thread.  ;)  Seriously, it's a good and important topic for discussion.  Thanks, RBC.   :cheers
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PJ Post

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #29 on: November 06, 2021, 09:54:32 PM »
Why is it that every time someone lets us know about a new opportunity there's all this pushback? It's just another tool. We know these platforms will work for some of us - because they already are!

And the only way they can be considered time sucks is in the very short-term. Social media is a long-term strategic play. To leverage them, you build your business around that process, be it YouTube, newsletters or whatever.

Publishing has changed and it's just getting started. It's all about content and engagement now. This is not a debate. This does not mean that some of you legacy folks out there can't still do well, but the old ways (5 years ago) are disappearing. I would highly encourage new writers to hedge their bets with these new platforms and opportunities.
 
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TimothyEllis

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Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #30 on: November 06, 2021, 10:10:37 PM »
We know these platforms will work for some of us - because they already are!

 :icon_think:

Can you remind us who and what is working?

Vella - Total fail.
Radish - not worth the effort.
Patreon - only works with a huge mailing list who can't find you any other way.

What did I miss out of recent discussions?
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RiverRun

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #31 on: November 06, 2021, 10:23:14 PM »
Jane Friedman on Substack, with a little commentary on Griffin.

https://www.janefriedman.com/i-like-substack-but-the-pr-is-getting-ridiculous/
That brings me to Elle Griffin, a writer who has spent this past year analyzing how writers make money by publishing fiction, through her own Substack newsletter (but of course). She started a Discord server, Substack Writers Unite, where people gather to talk about how to build their author platform and get subscribers. Her work has garnered a lot of attention and sharing, as it should—it’s valuable insight for anyone who wants to know how authors today earn a living outside of the traditional publishing path. But her motivation, as she’s made clear all along, is to accomplish one thing: launch her paid Substack serialization of her upcoming novel.

I wish Griffin every success and I hope it works out. But so far she has established an audience for writers who want to learn how to make money writing. And that is not the same audience who reads fiction online. Sure, there could be some overlap, but it’s a well-known problem among writers that blogging about writing and becoming an expert on publishing doesn’t translate into readers for your fiction. You end up in an echo chamber.


Friedman goes on to describe how she herself moved to working full time as a content creator, and finishes up with this.

I love seeing new paths and opportunities open up for writers. But Substack is just one option among many. And let us not forget Substack is a VC-funded enterprise, just as Medium was. Remember The Atavist? Byliner? Vook? Pronoun? Oyster? No? That’s because they’re buried very deep in the graveyard of publishing “disruptors.” Keep your eyes wide open.

I was curious about Griffin and read a little of her stuff, right before she started releasing chapters. One thing I thought interesting is that after her novel was turned down by several publishers, she realized that her genre was a small niche,(Southern gothic I think?) and that's part of why she's taken the path she has. Which is commendable. Maybe it will be the perfect platform for her project.

It is also, I think, her first book. Which feels, I don't know, a little presumptuous. I know what my own first book looks like. It has some 5 star reviews, but it isn't worth $50.
 
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Wonder

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #32 on: November 07, 2021, 02:08:41 AM »
Why is it that every time someone lets us know about a new opportunity there's all this pushback?

Because people don’t have identical opinions and values? The aim on a message board is conversation and exploration, no? Someone shares a thing. Some agree it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Others think it has no value. Different perspectives are shared.

In my view, it’s all great, because it’s all grist for the educational mill. Sharing a thing doesn’t entitle a person to universal agreement. Hearing someone else say “I don’t like or value that thing” in no way an attack. Nor does it prevent supporters from liking it, going after it, or sharing their own view.

Joyfully go after what you value. But if you’re disappointed when people don’t react positively to the things you personally like, to quote South Park, you’re gonna have a bad time.

 
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Lorri Moulton

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #33 on: November 07, 2021, 03:51:35 AM »
Why is it that every time someone lets us know about a new opportunity there's all this pushback? It's just another tool. We know these platforms will work for some of us - because they already are!

And the only way they can be considered time sucks is in the very short-term. Social media is a long-term strategic play. To leverage them, you build your business around that process, be it YouTube, newsletters or whatever.

Publishing has changed and it's just getting started. It's all about content and engagement now. This is not a debate. This does not mean that some of you legacy folks out there can't still do well, but the old ways (5 years ago) are disappearing. I would highly encourage new writers to hedge their bets with these new platforms and opportunities.

I think we all need to find what works for us.  Definitely look at new things!  We really don't know if something will work until we either try it...or give it enough time to play out.  Waiting is safer, but also less likely to provide the same return. 

The first ones to try something run the risks.  And the rewards. 

Author of Romance, Fantasy, Fairytales, Mystery & Suspense, and Historical Non-Fiction @ Lavender Cottage Books
 

LilyBLily

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #34 on: November 07, 2021, 05:33:30 AM »
Some of us also have a keen sense of our limitations, and frankly each newest thing that's supposed to bring me closer to my readers makes me shudder.

I have good evidence that even charming people who work hard at creating an attractive social media presence on all the newest platforms do not necessarily earn a dime extra for all their trouble. As long as they enjoy the effort, that's fine. Go to TikTok and Discord and whatever is new this week and have a party. Spread happiness.

I appreciate news about these new possibilities, but not every new thing is a good fit for every writer. Or reader.
 
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Lorri Moulton

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #35 on: November 07, 2021, 05:56:16 AM »
I'm all for new...as long as I don't have to use my cell phone. 
No reception on the farm, so I'll never be a hit on TikTok.  :dog1:

Author of Romance, Fantasy, Fairytales, Mystery & Suspense, and Historical Non-Fiction @ Lavender Cottage Books
 

Lorri Moulton

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #36 on: November 07, 2021, 06:05:04 AM »
One other thing about social media.  I'm wondering if it's time to use it in reverse.  I think Dan was the one who said years ago, Facebook wanted blogs to drive traffic there...and blogs ended up losing followers.

I'm on limited social media (mainly Facebook and Twitter with some pretty pictures on Pinterest) but I'm trying to bring people to my newsletter and website. I don't send them the other way unless it's a special group event on Facebook.

And since we're talking about ways to interact with readers, I'm trying to find an alternative for hosting events.  I'd rather use my site, but I don't know if I'd get enough people.  Is anyone hosting groups on their own sites?

Author of Romance, Fantasy, Fairytales, Mystery & Suspense, and Historical Non-Fiction @ Lavender Cottage Books
 

Hopscotch

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #37 on: November 07, 2021, 08:50:12 AM »
I'm all for the new, too...but I've been around long enough (I know it's boring to hear that phrase) to know that what's new and sparkly today usually isn't much different (or more profitable) from what was new and sparkly yesterday...b/c stuff evolves and rarely leaps.  Skepticism balances sparkly.  It isn't negativity.  :)   
. .

Fiction & pizza recipes @ stevenhardesty.com + nonfiction @ forgottenwarstories.com
 
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Anarchist

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #38 on: November 07, 2021, 08:59:05 AM »
Pioneers take the arrows, settlers take the land.”

I'm happy to watch developments from the sidelines (for now).
"The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.” – Thomas Sowell

"The State is an institution run by gangs of murderers, plunderers and thieves, surrounded by willing executioners, propagandists, sycophants, crooks, liars, clowns, charlatans, dupes and useful idiots—an institution that dirties and taints everything it touches.” - Hans Hoppe

"Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience." - Adam Smith

Nothing that requires the labor of others is a basic human right.

I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 
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Lorri Moulton

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #39 on: November 07, 2021, 09:10:18 AM »
I thought it was get there first, or you come in later with a lot of money.


Author of Romance, Fantasy, Fairytales, Mystery & Suspense, and Historical Non-Fiction @ Lavender Cottage Books
 
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PJ Post

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #40 on: November 08, 2021, 04:13:25 AM »
Quote
Quote
Why is it that every time someone lets us know about a new opportunity there's all this pushback?

Because people don’t have identical opinions and values?

Debate is good. Discussion is good. Automatically assuming that everything new sucks is not particularly helpful.

Few here, if any, have used these various platforms, so they have zero idea how useful any one of them might be. People tend to evaluate new things based on old experiences - unfortunately, those experiences rarely have any correlation or relevancy to the new thing in question. As the no doubt apocryphal story goes: Henry Ford said that if he had asked what the people wanted, they would have asked for faster horses.

It's great that some folks here gained a following when organic discovery was a thing, or that they leveraged frequent Bookbubs to build a newsletter/email program, or had enough success (money and/or know-how) to leverage AMS effectively.

But these are not useful strategies for the average newbie in 2021.

New writers need a Plan B and a Plan C, at minimum. Publishing a crap-ton of books as fast as humanly possible is not necessarily the best route anymore.

The bottom line is that, whether anyone wants to accept it or not, we are part of the Creative Content ecosystem - and that includes social media. I understand the desire to hold onto the notion that 'books' and 'writing' are somehow unique experiences, and therefore special; this has been traditional publishing's position for the last decade - but, let's be honest, only because it supported their revenue model.

Stories are not the tree pulp, ink, the binding or even the glue holding it all together. Stories are ethereal things that transcend physical - or virtual - packaging. Don't get me wrong, I love everything about books, but I'm not in the printing or packaging business - I'm in the entertainment business - the idea business.

I'm not trying to persuade anyone to change their process - if it works it works. You do you. But for me, any platform that allows me to reach more readers in this constantly changing market is worth further analysis. Certainly, they're not all going to work out, but to dismiss them out of hand is not only myopic, it's bad advice.

There are many paths up the mountain.

___

eta:

We know these platforms will work for some of us - because they already are!

Can you remind us who and what is working?

Vella - Total fail.

Vella is far too new to know what the future holds. And as I understand it, some authors are doing pretty well with the bonuses.

Quote
Radish - not worth the effort.

We don't have the data to reach this conclusion. It might not work for you, but that doesn't make it useless for everyone else.

Quote
Patreon - only works with a huge mailing list who can't find you any other way.

Patreon is huge and getting bigger all the time. Lots of writers are doing well, and it's not mailing lists - it's engagement - fans that want to support their favorite creatives.

___

Also, 'working' does not necessarily mean generating sales. 'Working' could mean brand awareness, market penetration or giving back to fans.

There are many paths up the mountain.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2021, 04:25:40 AM by PJ Post »
 
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Lorri Moulton

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #41 on: November 08, 2021, 04:40:12 AM »
I tried Kickstarter (total fail) and looked at Patreon...but same thing, you have to have people willing to pay up front.  I know it works for a LOT of people, but I sell books.  I don't want to ask them to fund my process.

So, I'm looking for ways to engage, build my brand, and sell my books.  Some of the 'classics' will always work, if you can get one.  BookBub, a great anthology group, specified genres, etc. 

I went into this KNOWING I wasn't going to write to genre.  So I also knew I would have to be more creative with my promotions. 

As PJ says, many different paths up the mountain.  :dog1:

Author of Romance, Fantasy, Fairytales, Mystery & Suspense, and Historical Non-Fiction @ Lavender Cottage Books
 
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idontknowyet

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #42 on: November 08, 2021, 05:52:22 AM »
I thought about putting a serialized book in my newsletter once a month to see if it would increase readership. I'm still thinking about it. With one monthly release, book funnel and newsletter swaps i really have a ton of buy this book material in my newsletter. That would give them something worthwhile.
 
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Anarchist

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #43 on: November 08, 2021, 10:04:32 AM »
It's great that some folks here gained a following when organic discovery was a thing, or that they leveraged frequent Bookbubs to build a newsletter/email program, or had enough success (money and/or know-how) to leverage AMS effectively.

But these are not useful strategies for the average newbie in 2021.

This is one of the reasons I no longer advise newbies. I don't know what it's like to start out.

I have a huge list. And I do a lot of AMS. These work for me. But newbies rarely have huge lists or the capital for big adspend.

I remain unconvinced about the value of social for new authors. But my skepticism is mostly coming from a place of ignorance.
"The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.” – Thomas Sowell

"The State is an institution run by gangs of murderers, plunderers and thieves, surrounded by willing executioners, propagandists, sycophants, crooks, liars, clowns, charlatans, dupes and useful idiots—an institution that dirties and taints everything it touches.” - Hans Hoppe

"Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience." - Adam Smith

Nothing that requires the labor of others is a basic human right.

I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 
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Crystal

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #44 on: November 08, 2021, 11:35:57 AM »
My instinct:

99% of authors will be better served by indie-publishing.

But it might work for someone.

It does require a perspective shift IMO. Most people buy eBooks because they are looking for information or entertainment. They may want to support an artist, but it's generally a secondary (or tertiary) goal. Most people subscribe to Patreon because they want to support an artist... and get information and entertainment.

It's a little more complicated. People might want to feel a part of a fan community. Or they may want to feel like an insider. And can apply to a lot of ways of engaging with content. But my general feeling is:

Don't over-estimate the number of true fans you have. It's probably much lower than you think.

Only a small percent of readers will become fans. A smaller percent will become diehard fans. The more successful you are, the smaller the percentage (most of the time-- it depends on a lot of factors. Some genres and niches and books inspire more fandom than others).
 
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TimothyEllis

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Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #45 on: November 08, 2021, 11:53:44 AM »
I'm not trying to persuade anyone to change their process - if it works it works. You do you. But for me, any platform that allows me to reach more readers in this constantly changing market is worth further analysis. Certainly, they're not all going to work out, but to dismiss them out of hand is not only myopic, it's bad advice.

There are many paths up the mountain.

Honestly PJ, when you stop telling us this sort of thing, and and start showing the new things actually work for you, I'm likely to pay more attention.


Quote
Vella - Total fail.

Vella is far too new to know what the future holds. And as I understand it, some authors are doing pretty well with the bonuses.

If only the people getting bonuses are doing well, that's a total fail for everyone else.

Quote
Quote
Radish - not worth the effort.

We don't have the data to reach this conclusion. It might not work for you, but that doesn't make it useless for everyone else.

I thought it was the consensus of opinion of those here who tried it and subsequently pulled out of it.

Quote
Quote
Patreon - only works with a huge mailing list who can't find you any other way.

Patreon is huge and getting bigger all the time. Lots of writers are doing well, and it's not mailing lists - it's engagement - fans that want to support their favorite creatives.

Where do the fans come from? Originally on the mailing list. And the true fans are a fraction of the list total. Patreon isn't going to work unless you have a mailing list in the tens of thousands, of which at least 10% are in your Facebook group as well.

Just as a matter of interest, is MSE still doing Patreon? His first use of that was highly visible and seen as a test of if it would work or not, and then nothing. Is he still using it? Just curious.
Genres: Space Opera/Fantasy/Cyberpunk, with elements of LitRPG and GameLit, with a touch of the Supernatural. Also Spiritual and Games.



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notthatamanda

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #46 on: November 08, 2021, 09:46:03 PM »
Just to clarify about Radish - they are giving away free coins to their users. Users earn these coins by watching ads or buying merchandise from 3rd party vendors. Radish presumably gets paid for this and they gave my content away for free to reward readers for the ad watching or merch buying.

If you have some dedicated fans on Radish I guess they would pay for your work, but you can't have your book free elsewhere and I totally killed my trilogy sales by taking book one off permafree to meet the Radish TOC, which they then changed with no warning.

I signed up because the first 3 episodes were supposed to be free and then further episodes were going to be paid. I wanted to continue writing my trilogy and I thought that a serial would be more manageable with me going back to school in Sept. They changed it on me between episodes 2 and 3. If I had known how it was going to end up there is no way I would have started the process.

If someone else wants to go the Radish route, good luck. Just understand exactly what the TOC is and that it could change at anytime. Sucks to do due diligence and think I knew what I was getting into to have it change like that and it was a fair amount of work to serialize 600+ pages into 100+ episodes, all for naught. Less than naught, if I count the lost sales for the trilogy which I could have had by doing nothing.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2021, 09:49:01 PM by notthatamanda »
 
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PJ Post

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #47 on: November 08, 2021, 10:58:14 PM »
Think of it like this...

If we use oars as a metaphor for marketing/sales platforms: with one guy rowing, the boat can only go so fast, with 8 guys rowing, the boat goes a whole lot faster. It's Marketing 101.

And I'm still not saying that every dot com that comes along is going to be worthwhile - it's the automatic dismissal I object to.

It reminds me of being a kid and listening to the old men arguing about Ford or Chevy: ...Back in '32, my Ford couldn't track a dirt road for crap, kept a-slippin' to Hell and back. I gave up on 'em right then and there. Now I know it's 1980, and we got them new-fangled concrete highways everywhere, shoot, I ain't even seen a dirt road since they tore down the old water tower, but none of that matters one whit. Ford won't ever be as good as Chevy. Nope. I'd just slide every-which-way, you know what I'm talkin' 'bout, Frank. Freakin' Fords...

And I'd think...didn't Ford win the 24 Hours of Le Mans like 4 times in a row?
 

notthatamanda

Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #48 on: November 08, 2021, 11:48:46 PM »
And to me it's like this....

Everything new thing that comes along is devised to make the inventor or the investors money. Not to help authors or anyone else sell books or anything else. There may be another big thing, but you will have to be lucky to be in the right place at the right time and then add in some more luck. Not every new platform or every new thing will necessarily have any success for anyone. Most will be completely worthless.

You are dismissing others taking into account what other people have experienced and saying, this isn't worth the risk to me. I am saying here is my experience, make your own decision. You are saying just because one person couldn't make it work, it could still work. I am offering my own experience so people can make an informed decision on what the platform actually is and they can decide for themselves if they want to pursue it.

So if you want to help people row faster and get useful information faster, why don't you put your books, time and money on the line and try out these things and let us know how it goes.
 
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TimothyEllis

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Re: Serializing novel into newsletter experiment
« Reply #49 on: November 08, 2021, 11:55:23 PM »
So if you want to help people row faster and get useful information faster, why don't you put your books, time and money on the line and try out these things and let us know how it goes.

 :clap:

Skin in the game gets more attention.

Call me cynical, but I'd much rather hear from someone telling me how well they're doing in something new, than someone pushing something new they themselves won't be doing.

That was after all how I went exclusive to KU in the first place. People were saying how well it worked for them, and how they were putting books into KU on release day. I then shifted from putting them in after a couple of months to day 1, and have never done anything different since. But it took people saying that for me to do it myself. That was back with my book 4 btw, and I was new to KB.
Genres: Space Opera/Fantasy/Cyberpunk, with elements of LitRPG and GameLit, with a touch of the Supernatural. Also Spiritual and Games.



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