Author Topic: Shorts as a tool to build a mailing list  (Read 2041 times)

Oscar Luster

Shorts as a tool to build a mailing list
« on: March 08, 2019, 06:12:23 AM »
Has anyone tried releasing a serial in KU as a tool for building a beefier mailing list?

Something like 1 or 2 segments of a story released each week for about 12 consecutive weeks?

Thoughts?

To clarify, I have seen this done successfully by releasing segments through newsletters or websites, but I am wondering about doing it in KU?
« Last Edit: March 08, 2019, 06:39:33 AM by Oscar Luster »
 

RBC

Re: Shorts as a tool to build a mailing list
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2019, 09:01:37 PM »
Some may have done it in KU Worlds maybe?

I'd give it a try. The more avenues you have for reaching readers the better and every single email list member counts.

Might also try this tacting on reading platform like Wattpad or the ones that allow readers to read on mobile phones (as short form serialisation is perfect for reading on the trains/buses etc). These may be untraditional avenues but they have millions of readers too.
 
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Oscar Luster

Re: Shorts as a tool to build a mailing list
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2019, 10:00:55 PM »
I will certainly look at the other options you mentioned.

But the reason for releasing into KU is primarily because I am hoping to pre-build KU readership for a related regular length series that would be published on that platform on the heels of the serials. The genre is one that already seems to be well-received in KU.
 
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VanessaC

Re: Shorts as a tool to build a mailing list
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2019, 11:34:21 PM »
I'm not an expert, but just some thoughts here in case these are useful.

If you're releasing anything into KU (or indeed onto Amazon generally / other platforms) then it needs to be a complete work, in my opinion.  Some writers have found success with serials, which are clearly and explicitly labelled as such, but these are planned and complete stories.  It does depend on the genre, though.  Writers with serials also seem to have a regular, rapid release schedule to maintain momentum.

What you're describing sounds more like teaser chapters or snippets?  I know of successful authors who do snippets, teasers, deleted scenes, etc, to very good effect, but these are via their newsletter / blog / Facebook page and to an existing fan base or readership.

The normal advice on building a mailing list is to have something exclusive to give to people who sign up for your mailing list / newsletter.  I haven't done this yet - I'm working on a short prequel for my next series - but others have used Bookfunnel as a delivery platform and Prolific Works to build up a mailing list by giving away free short works in return for a mailing list sign up.

If the story is already available in KU, then I would think KU subscribers would just download it there.

Building momentum in KU will also depend, I think, on your genre, normal length of works in your genre and what readers expect by way of a release schedule.

Hope some of this is useful.
     



Genre: Fantasy
 
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Oscar Luster

Re: Shorts as a tool to build a mailing list
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2019, 12:31:29 AM »
I'm not an expert, but just some thoughts here in case these are useful.

If you're releasing anything into KU (or indeed onto Amazon generally / other platforms) then it needs to be a complete work, in my opinion.  Some writers have found success with serials, which are clearly and explicitly labelled as such, but these are planned and complete stories.  It does depend on the genre, though.  Writers with serials also seem to have a regular, rapid release schedule to maintain momentum.

What you're describing sounds more like teaser chapters or snippets?  I know of successful authors who do snippets, teasers, deleted scenes, etc, to very good effect, but these are via their newsletter / blog / Facebook page and to an existing fan base or readership.

The normal advice on building a mailing list is to have something exclusive to give to people who sign up for your mailing list / newsletter.  I haven't done this yet - I'm working on a short prequel for my next series - but others have used Bookfunnel as a delivery platform and Prolific Works to build up a mailing list by giving away free short works in return for a mailing list sign up.

If the story is already available in KU, then I would think KU subscribers would just download it there.

Building momentum in KU will also depend, I think, on your genre, normal length of works in your genre and what readers expect by way of a release schedule.

Hope some of this is useful.

Yes, very useful, thanks! I probably wasn't as clear as I should have been when I posted the question, sorry about that.

To clarify, what I am calling "serials" are not snippets or teasers, but more of a body of short works to help set the stage for the actual series. They still build and tell a story on their own, but still relate to the three book series that would release immediately after the last serial. Timing would be 10-12 serial releases over 90 days, about one every week. I guess I am trying to build more of a fan base for this experiment than just a mailing list. It is in a genre that I have not previously released in and I am really intrigued by the idea of experimenting with the marketing from the beginning. 

I think I am hoping for help in seeing the potential downsides that I may not be seeing...because there are always downsides! lol
 

PJ Post

Re: Shorts as a tool to build a mailing list
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2019, 12:40:10 AM »
Yes, this has been done a lot, and not with very good results. A serial is not a broken up novel. They have completely different structures and pacing, but more importantly, they have different fans. The same can be said for short stories. They're their own animal. So building up a following for shorts or serials might not translate to your novels.

Your brand should be representative of a specific approach, especially early on, otherwise you end up with messaging confusion, which interferes with reader expectations. Brands should consistently be a thing readers can depend on. While some people have done the 'everything' brand, it's a really tough row to hoe.

I think the better approach is to figure out what it is you want to do and then do that. There are a lot of tools to build lists and visibility and such. The important thing is to be consistently selling the same thing. This is one reason you'll see the same writer with different pen names. JD Robb and Nora are probably the best known example. There's no secret about who's who, but the marketing (messaging) is different for each because the genres are different, which means the target audience is different - because the genre expectations are different.

Hope that made sense. Good luck and remember to have fun.
 
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Oscar Luster

Re: Shorts as a tool to build a mailing list
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2019, 01:20:19 AM »
Thanks @PJ Post, yes your reply does make sense and is helpful.

I do realize there are basic, but important differences in structure and audience between serials and a longer work and how that could affect my plan and audience.

The shorts work together to tell an overarching story, but do fit the mold of traditional serials.

This is intriguing for me because this is a chance to experiment with a new to me genre and should not impact any of the other work I have or will continue to publish under the other pen name. Looking for a challenge or maybe just beating my head against a new brick wall...
 

PJ Post

Re: Shorts as a tool to build a mailing list
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2019, 01:46:37 AM »
I think the better way to go, from an audience perspective, is to publish the novels first (get buy-in), and then fill in the blanks with the backstories and side story shorts you're talking about. So, it's like an Easter egg thing for them. But I recognize that that may not be how you want to allocate your resources at this time.

The bad news is the approach you're talking about has failed for lots of writers - the good news is that it hasn't failed for you!

I love writing serials, but they're a vast purgatory of conflicting opinions and results, and then there's pricing and promotions. Serials are, at best, problematic.

eta: Or...can the novels altogether, and just stick to the serials. The great thing about serials is they often combine to form fantastic novels.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2019, 01:49:37 AM by PJ Post »
 
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Bill Hiatt

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Re: Shorts as a tool to build a mailing list
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2019, 02:03:26 AM »
You've articulated two goals: build mailing list, and build audience for upcoming novels.

For the second one, I agree with PJ Post. Releasing prequel material first can have odd results. If the material is closely linked, people will sometimes want the prequel to be attached to the novel rather than to be a separate product. I had that problem the one time I tried to release a prequel first. People who hadn't read the prequel intuited that there was earlier material. (For some reason, this isn't as much of a problem if the prequel is written later, I suppose because the first novel doesn't hint as much of something that came before. If the prequel is in the author's mind already, more hints creep in.) Anyway, I got so much feedback pre-publication from people who felt the novel was incomplete as it stood that I ended up publishing it in the same volume with the previously published prequel as a prologue. (How's that for alliteration.

Building a mailing list is an entirely separate problem. Use shorts on something like Book Funnel as a reader magnet to attract signups. Making serials available (in KU or otherwise) does little to encourage signups by itself. You'll get some, but probably not many.


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Oscar Luster

Re: Shorts as a tool to build a mailing list
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2019, 02:20:59 AM »
Very good points to ponder. I guess I need to put some more thought into this and make some decisions, one way or the other... Thank you all for the good information. Have a wonderful weekend!