I’ve put up 12 free chapters on my webpage for Babet & Prosper’s short novel RIVER CITY RUMBLE. I have at least nine more chapters plotted. It might go longer. And I have to say, this has been an interesting experiment. What have I learned?
- As far as marketing, I’ve read on other blogs that offering free stories on your webpage helps increase sales. I thought that if readers liked the chapters and free Babet and Prosper stories in the side column, they might spring for some of the bundles on Amazon. I’ve gotten the occasional hit, but I’ve had better luck paying for advertising than offering free stories on my webpage. I’ve had a lot more visitors, but that hasn’t translated into sales. For now, I’m just happy I have more visitors and reach more people, so I’m okay with that. But as a marketing tool, advertising seems to work better.
- As for writing, telling a story as a weekly serial has made me really concentrate on what I put in each chapter.
- Have I kept the characters interesting and alive in the reader’s mind? It’s been a week since they’ve thought about them. Do they remember Viviane, Jacinta, or Hennie? Have I made them distinctive enough? How do I jump start their personalities again?
- Something significant has to happen in every chapter. There are no “down” chapters that link from one event to the next. Whatever happens has to be important enough to hold the reader for another week.
- Is there enough variety? Yes, a chapter has to be significant, but I can’t write a battle for each of them. Yet I want an event that’s significant, that makes the reader feel satisfied that it’s going to impact the final outcome.
- Have I offered the reader a variety of emotions? Have I made the characters complex enough that they care about them? Worry when they’re in trouble? Be surprised about how they react? Have I offered some laughter or amusement to buffer the tense moments? Some warm or poignant moments to touch the heart?
- I try to permeate the feel of River City into the story. I hope to show the bond between the protagonists who live there, so that each character is part of the whole. The series is long enough, the cast of characters has grown, and it’s hard to give them each a part and let him/her shine.
- Am I cranking up the conflict and tension, so that things just keep getting worse, so that the final showdown will be big and bad enough to satisfy the reader? Zanor won’t go down easily. Defeating him has to test the protagonists past anything they’ve done before.
I’ve written other serial stories, but they’ve been short–four or five chapters, and I like them because they challenge me. This is the first time I’ve tried a serial novel, something longer with more characters and events. And it’s challenged me, too. But I’m enjoying it. Whatever you’re working on, I hope it stretches your writing muscles AND brings you joy. Happy Writing!