Lessons on Writing: Serialization

Disclaimer: The following realization is not scientifically accurate. It is simply the meanderings of a procrastinating writer.

Since advertising is the bread and butter of aspiring authors, I spent the last two weeks learning the trade. Part of the process, I’ve been told, includes redirecting focus towards serialize my books rather than actively promoting the book I have. To this, I admit I gave a great deal of consideration (and respect), and possibly, insufficient credence as I have yet to try the process myself. However, I can’t help wondering if serialization will really benefit my books, or the books in my genre.

Take for example my only published novel:

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It’s thriller/suspense/horror. It has sold a couple hundred copies to date, and I’m grateful it got off the ground at all. The sales were mostly due to social media advertisement, though I’ve also looked into specific market behavior. The following are my findings:

  1. The dominating authors in my genres are Stephen King, Dean Koontz and John Grisham.
  2. King’s first bestseller was Carrie, a stand alone novel about a girl with psychic powers.
  3. Koontz’s was Whispers (or Demon Seed, if we’re counting crossover genres), another stand alone suspense thriller.
  4. Grisham’s first was A Time to Kill, another stand alone novel.

In short, there doesn’t seem to be a predominance of serialization among the bestselling thriller authors; it doesn’t seem necessary for the genre.

That being said, I looked into other genres, and fully acknowledge that serialization is very important for some of these, specifically sci-fi, fantasy, and detective mysteries.

  1. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series wouldn’t be very interesting without the short stories that came after A Study in Scarlet.
  2. George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series wouldn’t be half as epic without its multiple volumes and ever-rotating cast.
  3. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series would have left billions upset if it simply stopped after one book.
  4. Heck, fantasy novelists have made such a habit of serialization that almost all of their books have been named “[NOUN] of [NOUN]” or “The [ADJECTIVE] [NOUN]”

Perhaps this phenomenon is the result of readership focus. While sci-fi and fantasy fans are very character focused, thriller/suspense/horror readers tend to be event focused. The respective audiences are looking for different derivatives; one wants to know everything from the family lineage of the protagonist to the names of their future children, while the other wants only an escape or answer. As such, perhaps the better thing to do in this situation is to serialize the world, rather than the characters of The Almshouse. I plan to do more research on the subject.

In the meantime, I have started a new novel called Nuts.

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It tells the story of Lucy, a girl stuck in a mental asylum and surrounded by patients who claim to have magical powers. Whether they are magical or simply deluded, the patients die off one by one, and Lucy must figure out if the source is magical or something more down to earth.

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Lessons on Writing: Great Ads

It’s been two weeks of advertising, and book sales have been pretty good. A big thank you to everyone who has purchased one of my stories.

I wanted to make a post about the great promotional services out there. Without their help, I would not have been able to spread the word about my new book,  The Almshouse.

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(I also changed the cover.)

Here’s a list of tried and true advertising services for other authors out there:

Readers in the Know: (free) I have to say this guy is great. He put ads for my book on his website, facebook, and twitter. I will definitely continue using his service. I think I will purchase his gold promo package in December.

BookKitty on fiverr: ($5) I used her before and was happy to purchase again. She’s very professional and tries to do as much as she can for her customers.

Bknights on fiverr: (same $5) This man works miracles. Seriously, you cannot ask for a better ad. He’s very easy to communicate with, flexible in terms of dates, and his website is very well put together. With this and my own promotions and a couple of my friends sharing my posts on facebook and group text messages, my book was pushed from rank 49,000’s to #6,590. Also I got #9, #10, and #16 on the Top 100 Bestsellers lists for 3 categories. If you’re just starting out, or running low on funds, try Bknights. (Also, and this is a rumor, but it seems he gives refunds for the books he was not able to sell as well as he wanted)

Goodreads: (free) I found a group of people who will give one honest review each for a free copy of the book. I sent them each a PDF, so hopefully that will turn into something. I also found a person who runs a book feature blog. It’s free but you have to apply. It’s an up and starting blog, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

Asking for friends to help: (free) It’s funny. The years I spent as an artist, I built up a network of people. One of them has decided to take up promoting my book in exchange for some of my artwork. He was able to secure 6 sales in the last couple of hours. If anyone had a previous job before writing, I recommend falling back on the old network.

eBook Booster: ($25) Good people. They’re very professional, act quickly, and they really make sure all the work is done as promised. I will definitely use them again when I can figure out how the countdown deals work.

ENT: ($30) Received a cordial email from ENT today notifying me of the acceptance of my book. The processing was surprisingly quick. Will update this based on change and status.

Readfree.ly: (free) First thing’s first: the guy who owns this website is very nice. He got back to me within a day and I saw the ad go up the day after. That being said, my own sales did not benefit significantly from Readfree.ly, but it might be cause of my genre. I would definitely not hesitate to recommend the site to others. It’s free… there’s nothing to lose.

Readcheaply.com: (free for a limited time) I think they were responsible for my sudden increase in sales this past Wednesday. In my absentmindedness, I forgot to keep track of when this ad was supposed to kick in. But since it’s free for a limited time, I definitely recommend this service. They’re more likely than not responsible for the sudden +13 I saw from my usual daily sales.

Do you have a service you like? Feel free to share your experience.

Lessons about Writing: Emotions

After a day of speaking with representatives at multiple companies, the problem from yesterday had finally been taken care of. I’m very grateful right now to the good people who helped me. Thank you, really. It’s been a huge relief.

Before I start, I want to preface this entry with the fact that I’m not angry at the Fiverr lady anymore. Though she and I could not reach an agreement, there were faults on both sides, and really I should have avoided the situation by asking for recommendations before I commissioned any kind of advertisements.

That said, the conclusion of the story is as such…

Last night, I thought it would be a good idea to reach out of the Fiverr lady via email to ask her if she is willing to put feelings aside so we can sort out our differences. I said I really do not want to make her angry or hurt her feelings, I just want to talk out our differences. I told her that while she can prove she offered 2/3 of the services her ad promised, I would have been okay with that if she had shown me. (24,800/35,000 is a lot closer than 430/35,000). I gave her my perspective and asked her to share hers. Maybe we can figure something out, I suggested.

This morning, I received a response email from her. No, she does not want to talk. She wants me to email Fiverr and tell them I was wrong, to reinstate her business, and to give her $5. Then she wanted me to take down my review of her service in a reader’s forum. Then she wanted me to tell Mr. Gene Geter, the other author who was upset by the situation, to remove his blog about the issue. She said I am to do this without contacting her again, because if I contact her again, she will report it as “cyberbullying.” She said when she sees that all of her requests are met, she will then remove her blog posts about my book and Mr. Gene Geter’s books. I spoke with Gene Geter about this. He does not want to do as she says. I can’t say I blame him.

I did not respond to her email. There’s no need to drag this out anymore. Instead, I should focus on what I’ve learned, which is that controlling my emotions in the face of situations like this is a must. If I have gotten upset in the past, I must not do that anymore. Upset helps no one, but hurts at least two people, and authors losing their tempers are perceived as unprofessional, whether they’re right or not. We have but one reputation. I do not want to start my career in such an unpleasant light.

In hindsight, I am grateful for this lesson. Better now than later, and better early than late. There are many other things to do instead. My marketing team is working hard, and a friend was able to speak with a NYT bestselling author, and that author has agreed to look at my book. Maybe this will turn into something. Maybe not. But at least it’s something to aspire to.