Serialization Pros and Cons for an Author

Last month I began writing about serialized novels. Earlier this year I wrote Hidden Falls, which released in 13 weekly episodes from Barbour’s new Shiloh Run Studios imprint. Releasing directly to digital formats without a concurrent print edition was a grand experiment for all of us.

I addressed pros and cons for the publisher who launches into digital first publishing, particularly serializations. This month I want to look at the same question from the perspective of the author. Here are some ways that direct-to-digital can benefit an author working with a traditional publisher.

1. It can fuel the buzz ahead of a print release that may duplicate or expand on the digital project.

2. It opens new possibilities for structure and story models that might not work in conventional formats.

3. It’s a fresh way to engage readers, who may be reading only a couple of episodes behind what the writer is churning out and might contribute feedback that makes for a stronger story.

4. Interaction with editorial, marketing, and salesmay happen simultaneously, in a group-think format that includes the writer at every stage.

5. There’s potential to expand the story world beyond a print book, whether before or after a print release.

6. An author with a strong backlist may be able to build on the brand and entice people to pay for digital first books that release in parts.

7. Direct-to-digital quickly gives readers more of what they like.

All of these opportunities can pump a writer’s adrenaline, but there are some challenges.

1. Serializations are largely untested in the CBA market.

2. Writing systems may have to be reinvented. Plotting, writing and revising are likely to happen in a compressed period of time.

3. If a serialization is released in weekly episodes, there is less wiggle room in the schedule.

4. The writer is “stuck” with what already released. There is no going back to revise something at the start of the story that is already in the hands of readers.

5. Readers expect e-books to be cheap. What if they’re not? Or not cheap enough? They may not stick with the story because of the price.

6. What’s possible with technology and interactivity is unknown, and in partnership with a publisher, it’s also unknown what the writer’s role is in maximize the possibilities.

Some of these pros and cons relate to all forms of digital publishing. Some are specific to serializations—giving readers only part of the story at a time with enough satisfaction in each episode, but also enough reason to hit the “Buy Now” button for the next piece.

Serializations are not for every publisher and not for every writer, but given the climate of digital entertainment and the growing e-book market, unquestionably it’s worth exploring.

Next month we’ll look at the reader’s experience of serializations, and then you can put together all three pieces—publisher, writer, reader—and form your own opinion about the future of serializations in the Christian book market.

Olivia Newport forthcoming release is Wonderful Lonesome, an historical Amish novel due out September 1.

 

 

ACFW Colorado Author Spotlight – on vacation

Hi, All! Author Spotlight will be taking the summer off. I hope you all have a wonderful summer! See you on the second Wednesday in September for a new Author Spotlight!

Just a reminder that if you are a member of one of our local chapters and have published books, we’d love to spotlight you on our monthly feature. We love to tell others about the wonderful authors we have here Colorado. To be considered for the Spotlight, you do need to list your books on the ACFW Colorado web site.  If you are an ACFW member residing in the State of Colorado, and would like to have your fiction release listed, visit the ACFW Colorado web site, click on the Members Only link, login, then follow the instructions under “Books & Short Stories.”

Member Monday: Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group

By Kathy Brasby, president, Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group

spunkandspiritwriterslogo1How an author can tap into the culture of the reader is the topic by Chris Richards, an editor and vice president for Written World Communications, at the next Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group meeting on Monday, August 18, from 6:30-8 pm at Life Fellowship in Fort Morgan.

Richards’ talk, “Where did it come from?” will examine the use of myth, religion, literature, politics, history, and social unrest in writing to increase its appeal to readers. Using Star Wars and other movies as examples, authors can tap into the culture of the reader.

Chris Richards is a Colorado native who has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her greatest passion is helping other writers get published. She speaks at writers conferences and writers groups on a regular basis and is an editor and vice-president for the Written World Communications publishing house. Her current project is putting together one-day writing seminars for teenage writers.Chris Richards

Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group meets on the third Monday of each month and is open to the public.

Dues (only $10 a year) can be sent to our treasurer: Becky Brasby, 21267 Co. Rd. 20.5, Fort Morgan, CO 80701.  We welcome associate memberships at $5 a year, too.

You can connect with us at our website  http://spunkandspirit.acfwcolorado.com/ or  on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/spunkandspirit

 

Antagonist and Instigator

When I was a kid, my mom had two nicknames for me: antagonist and instigator. She called me the first when I insisted on playing every game by the rules and got angry with the other kids who didn’t want to play that way. She called me the second when things were going too smoothly and too quietly and so I would push my sister or take my brother’s toy, just to get a reaction.

Little did I know I was already in training to be a writer.

Every good story needs the hero and the heroine, maybe a little romance to keep them coming back to each other, and a little conflict to keep the story going until its satisfying conclusion.

But your story needs more than that. Your story needs an antagonist and an instigator.

The antagonist is the character who tries to keep you’re here/heroine from getting what they want. The antagonist isn’t always an evil villain, although he could be. Your antagonist’s goals should be the opposite of what your hero/heroine wants. For example, if your hero wants to get elected as dog catcher in his town, the antagonist might be the other person running in the election. Who might also be the hero’s wife/love interest. They both think they will be the best dog catcher this town ever had. And they might have completely opposing views of how to accomplish that goal.

The instigator, on the other hand, could be a completely different character. This is the person who appears mid-way through the book and shakes things up when the action is slowing down or the story is going along just a little too well. The instigator could be the lady from the SPCA who comes in to do a lecture on spaying and neutering, which both candidates are against. Or the instigator could be the mayor who wants to cut the position of dog catcher from the budget. Or the instigator might be the tree hugger from the hero’s past who knows that in a past life he worked with a perfume company that did experiments on animals and thinks that’s why the hero now wants to be dog catcher, to provide a steady supply of animals for one of those companies.

The antagonist and the instigator could be the same person, but if they are, you must let the reader know early in the book that there is more depth to this character than simply wanting different goals. I think a story is more rounded out if these characters are different people. No fair springing this on the reader like, “Oh, by the way, as you know I used to protest at these perfume companies and I remember seeing you clock in every day. I know why you’re running for this position.”

Antagonists up the ante, keep the conflict tense, and give readers a reason to keep reading your book. The instigator will provide more opportunities for your hero/heroine to prove themselves, and will introduce another subplot which readers love.

Antagonists and instigators – consider introducing both these characters into your story, and watch the tension and the action increase as all of these people try to accomplish their own personal goals.


Author bio: Donna writes historical suspense, which you can check out at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com or www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com, and her alter ego, Leeann Betts, writes contemporary suspense, which you can check out at www.LeeannBetts.com or www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com. Donna is represented by Terrie Wolf at AKA Literary, LLC (www.AKALiteraryLLC.com). Check out Donna’s story at www.livebytheword.com.

August 2014: News from ACFW Colorado Springs Chapter

ACFW Colorado Springs meets the first Saturday of the month from 10 AM to noon at the First Evangelical Free Church on 30th Street in Colorado Springs.

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We were thrilled to have speaker, multi-published author, Mary Davis speak to our chapter this past Saturday.

mary-davis-headshot“Everyone’s A Critic!”

A critique group is essential for growing as a writer, but the thought of handing over your work to someone else to criticize is hard. When done properly, critique groups can encourage more than discourage. Mary will talk about types of groups, group guidelines, proofreading marks, and more.    

 

 

 

::NEXT MONTH::

Mark your calenders to come hear, life coach and friend to all writers, Sonia Meeter.



Speaker: Sonia Meeter (Life Coach)

Topic: The Resilient Writer!

Member News:

Congratulations to Beth K. Vogt, who is a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards for romance for Catch A Falling Star!

Opportunity for ACFW Colorado Springs Members:

ACFW Colorado Springs critique group: Join the weekly critique group on Tuesday nights from 6-9 PM. The group meets at the First Evangelical Free Church on 30th Street (the same location as our monthly meeting). You can bring 10 double-spaced pages of your work-in-progress (WIP), to be critiqued when you attend.

Member News Mondays (ACFW South Denver Chapter)

Our August meeting is one week from today  at 7 pm on August 4th at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Our speaker is Tiffany Amber Stockton, a Colorado author. Her topic: From Premise to Publication.

 

Member news that was shared at our July meeting:

Mike Carroll – Gave a talk on Living Among the Giants at DU with the Denver Astronomical Society on 6/11

Jeff Kildow – His 2nd book is out to four publishers

Carolyn Sherrow – Her first book is under contract and she made it to the second round for an anthology

Sandy Nadeau – Got her first royalty check for Red Gold

Kim Stewart – Finished her first novel and is editing

 

Come join us at our next meeting and get to know your fellow writers in the southwest Denver area.

 

 

Serialization: Pros and Cons for a Publisher

The first few months of this year found me in the throes of writing 15,000 words a week and staying about three episodes ahead of my readers. I was in the middle of a 13-episode serialization called Hidden Falls.Think of a television series, with continuous storylines and characters but presented in individual episode that connect to each other.

I was collaborating with the publisher (Shiloh Run Studios, a new imprint of Barbour) in a grand experiment. None of us knew exactly what would happen.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to the local ACFW chapter about the experience. We had a rousing discussion about the challenges and opportunities of digital-first publishing in general and serializations in particular. We looked at pros and cons of serialization for the publisher, the writer, and the reader.

In this space for the next three months, I invite you in to some of our conversation. Let’s start with why a publisher would try a strategy of releasing one long story (200,000 words) in episodes.

Here’s what I come up with.

1. Digital-first publishing connects with the wider context of our highly visual culture that rapidly consumes entertainment.

2. Digital-first publishing capitalizes on growing trends for how people consume fiction.

3. Digital-first publishing allows a publisher to wade into innovative waters and benefit from a shorter cycle of evaluation and adjustment than traditional print publishing.

4. Digital-first publishing gets new projects to market faster, helping to keep readers connected to writers they enjoy.

5. A serialization, as a particular form of digital-first publishing, presents an old format (think Dickens) to a modern audience.

6. Innovation keeps a business going.

There’s always a flip side. What are the cons a publisher must be mindful of with a serialization in particular? Here’s my list.

1. If the publisher has no track record for selling serializations, which is likely with a traditional CBA publisher at this point in time, they face a greater degree of uncertainty in predicting business outcomes.

2. Publishing systems must be more nimble, able to adjust to new information as it arrives and making adjustments to product development and marketing even in the midst of releasing the episodes of the series.

3. In a new format, the publisher must find afresh the balance between the length and form of a product and profitable pricing, a particular challenge in an environment where many readers believe digital formats should be less expensive than print.

4. Despite clear labeling, there’s a risk that readers who begin the first episode may not realize they are beginning a serialization with ongoing storylines and cliffhangers.

Serializations are only one form of digital-first publishing, but they raise new challenges to a publisher’s business model. At the same time, serialization offers challenges for the writer (which we’ll look at in August) and adjustments for readers (which we’ll look at in September).

• As someone interested in writing fiction, in what ways do you think serializations could change the landscape of fiction in the future?

Olivia Newport is the author of the Avenue of Dreams series, the Valley of Choice series, Hidden Falls, and the forthcoming Amish Turns of Time series beginning with Wonderful Lonesome in September.

Member Monday: Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group

By Kathy Brasby, President Spunk and spirit Christian Writers Group

spunkandspiritwriterslogo1Because several of our members are newer or younger writers, we’re trying some new things this year at Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group.

Our July meeting (Monday, July 21, 6:30-8 pm at Life Fellowship in Fort Morgan) gives our members an opportunity to brainstorm ideas for their projects as well as discuss some tips and thoughts on writing flash fiction.

We plan to write to some prompts, just to get the creative juices warmed up, and then take time to write on our own projects.

In August, we’ll have Chris Richards as our guest speaker, talking on It Came from Where?  She’ll discuss the use of myth, religion, literature, politics, history, and social unrest in your writing increases its appeal to readers. Using StarWars and other movies as examples learn how authors can tap into the culture of the reader.

Our September meeting will give writers an opportunity to submit their projects for critique.

Dues (only $10 a year) can be sent to our treasurer: Becky Brasby, 21267 Co. Rd. 20.5, Fort Morgan, CO 80701.  We welcome associate memberships at $5 a year, too.

You can connect with us at our website  http://spunkandspirit.acfwcolorado.com/ or  on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/spunkandspirit

ACFW Colorado Author Spotlight – on vacation

Hi, All! Author Spotlight will be taking the summer off. I hope you all have a wonderful summer! See you on the second Wednesday in September for a new Author Spotlight!

Just a reminder that if you are a member of one of our local chapters and have published books, we’d love to spotlight you on our monthly feature. We love to tell others about the wonderful authors we have here Colorado. To be considered for the Spotlight, you do need to list your books on the ACFW Colorado web site.  If you are an ACFW member residing in the State of Colorado, and would like to have your fiction release listed, visit the ACFW Colorado web site, click on the Members Only link, login, then follow the instructions under “Books & Short Stories.”

A Passion for the Story

In a recent conversation with my agent, Terrie Wolf, she mentioned she talks to editors occasionally who are looking for a specific book to fit a particular publishing slot. My response? “If you get any requests, let me know. Maybe I can write that book.”

As I thought about this later, I wondered if I’d spoken hastily or foolishly. After all, what if they wanted a (gulp) bonnet story? Or a (double gulp) category romance? Did I really think I could write such a book? I came up with lots of reasons why I couldn’t – not my genre, not my area of specialty or knowledge, never wrote one before.

And then I was reminded of the wise words spoken to me at one time, not in this context, but which I will paraphrase: Don’t look for a reason not to write the story; look for a reason to write the story.

So I put on my thinking cap again. Why would I want to write a bonnet story or a category romance or a western or a sci-fi or any of the other genres I don’t write? And the answer I came up with was: passion. And I’m not talking about relationship-type passion.

The kind of passion I’m talking about is the essence that starts a writer’s creative juices flowing, forcing us to work past the first What if? And deeper into the next, Then What? And the next.

I would need a passion for the setting, for the characters, or for the story.

That passion would ignite the story ideas, flesh out the characters, and help me choose (or create) a believable setting. That passion would keep me writing when the words seemed blah, would keep me plotting when I didn’t think anybody would want to read this story, would keep me enthused enough to press on until I typed, “The End”.

Passion has nothing to do with the book as a whole, but everything to do with the components of the story. Passion is also called our Muse, that je ne sais quoi that propels us to our computer and causes our fingers to fly over the keys, the words appearing on the screen as if by osmosis.

Passion also helps us take a teensy idea and expand the details into a full-length novel. Let’s take an example. Cinderella is a short story fairy tale, yet in the hands of another, become the basis for over 30 movies (based on an article on Wikipedia). No doubt each one of these movies contained details that were not included in the original story.

If we take the Cinderella story, let’s go through some What If? Questions to come out to a completely different story: What if Cinderella lived with her father and siblings instead of her step-mother and step-sisters, but they were jealous of her? We’d have a story like Joseph and his coat of many colors. What if Cinderella was an orphan? We’d have a story like Oliver Twist. What if Cinderella was raised in a happy family but went her own way and left home? Prodigal son story.

So let’s take the example of the (gulp) bonnet story. First I need to remember what my passion is: writing stories that show a God who is bigger than our past. My story might be about a woman journalist who decided to do a story on the Amish, falls in love with an Amish man, and marries him. “Accidentally Amish”. In another story, maybe my character flees to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, because she’s on the run from the mob. “Sister Act”.

Your passion for the story, characters, and setting will be different than mine, because your writing passion, that thing inside you that keeps you writing, is different. Take a few minutes and look at the theme of the stories you write and the stories you want to write. What is the common thread running through these stories? Summarize that theme, or passion, in a single sentence and leave it in the comments section. Your passion is NOT: My story is about a girl who runs away from home and gets involved in drugs and then gets saved. Your passion might be: I write stories about prodigals and their families.

Now, back to the plotting board. Let’s see. A (double gulp) category romance. My female lead is a bounty hunter sent to bring back a bail jumper. My male lead is the bail jumper, an angry man, who recognizes my bounty hunter as the woman seen driving away from the scene of a bank robbery that led to a fatal car crash twenty years before where his wife was killed. Nobody was ever prosecuted for this terrible accident or for the robbery. Will she be able to convince him she isn’t the person she was back then? Will he be able to see the grace and mercy of God in his own life and extend forgiveness to the woman he blames for ruining his life?

Hmmm. Might be able to make that work…


Author bio: Donna writes historical suspense, which you can check out at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com or www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com, and her alter ego, Leeann Betts, writes contemporary suspense, which you can check out at www.LeeannBetts.com or www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com. Donna is represented by Terrie Wolf at AKA Literary, LLC (www.AKALiteraryLLC.com). Check out Donna’s story at www.livebytheword.com.

 

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