One-Eyed Jack: Progress Report Zero

A couple of years back I was advised that traditional fantasy wasn’t selling as well as it used to, and the hot trend was urban fantasy. Well, I’ve always liked urban fantasy, so I decided to give it a shot. The result was a dark urban fantasy called One-Eyed Jack, first in what I intended as a series about a guy named Gregory Kraft who’s been cursed — literally — with psychic powers he can’t control and doesn’t really understand.

I finished it some time ago, and my agent’s been trying to find it a suitable home. A couple of publishers are interested, but frankly, I’m not thrilled with the terms they’re offering, and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve wanted to experiment with self-publishing. So a couple of days ago I asked my agent to pull it off the market; I’ll be publishing it myself, under the Misenchanted Press imprint.

I’m still working out the details, though. For one thing, should I serialize it? I’m thinking I should, just as advertising. The whole thing’s written, so I don’t need encouragement to finish it, but I’ll be interested in reader reaction, and feedback from a serial may result in some tweaking and editing.

I will not be promising donors a copy of the finished paper edition, though. I’m not sure whether I’ll have a minimum amount required before I post a new chapter. I will let people donate money either because they feel like it, or to advance order the e-book edition, but it won’t take $25; I think $10 should cover it. (I won’t just send them the e-book immediately because (a) I won’t have the cover ready right away, and (b) there’s that tweaking and editing I mentioned.) The eventual list price for the e-book will be less than that, but your $10 means you’ll be one of the first to get it.

So right now I’m looking for feedback — serialize it, or don’t bother? If serialized, how often should new chapters be posted? Since it’s all written, there’s no need for weekly spacing; I could do two or three chapters a week. Heck, I could make it daily. There are twenty-seven chapters and an epilogue. Should I require a certain amount of money before posting a new chapter, or just assume that sales of the finished book will cover everything?

Should I, perhaps, not post the last few chapters, no matter what?

Talk to me, folks.

Thanks.

18 Responses to “One-Eyed Jack: Progress Report Zero”

  1. Jim Henry Says:

    A stand-alone serial would indeed probably be good advertising for your work — it would give your fans a good chance to recommend you to friends who might have been daunted by diving in to the Ethshar series with a novel that more or less depends on several previous novels, like the serials you’ve done before. That said, I’ve donated to previous serials to do my part to ensure that the book does get finished and published; since this one is already finished and some other form of publication is already more or less assured, I’m not sure I would donate to this serial rather than waiting and buying either the paper or etext edition when they’re available. Depending on what other books I’m in the middle of reading at the time, and how often the serial chapters are posted, I might or might not read the book as serialized rather than waiting and reading it all in a day or two when I buy the final version.

    I’m more likely to read the story as serialized and comment on it if the chapters are posted more often than once a week. I suspect the best timing for a serial like this, in terms of generating word of mouth advertising and fan participation in a conversation about the book, is to allow enough time for some interactive conversation in the comment thread for each chapter before the next chapter is posted — so probably less than one chapter per day, but maybe more than one chapter per week. And perhaps having a predictable schedule is more important than any specific timing.

  2. Doug Lampert Says:

    If the serial is being done mostly as advertising then I think if I were you I’d just put up the first half or so of the book.

    If that’s not enough to interest people then they probably won’t buy it anyway.

    Maybe two releases a week (to maintain interest), and try to time it so the electronic version is ready about the time the book is ready to sell in e-form, and then stop giving it away and start selling.

    Now personally, free is good and right now is good, so put it up a chapter a day and put it all up and I’ll be happy, but I don’t think that serves your purposes.

  3. simon Says:

    once a week as if those who want it faster just wish for a free read
    though please name / state the day for those of us / to stop having to check the site every few hours on the vain hope of it being there at random
    if you will be self publishing i can only hope for a paper edition from you
    as i do not have or wish for a reader being stuck in front these machines all week !
    if this is the case i will only be too happy to support the project.
    (think you can tell i am not an author dreadful grammar)

  4. Jon Lundy Says:

    My personal viewpoint is that I would rather purchase it in electronic format (through your affiliate link to Amazon), all at once. However I’m a guaranteed sale so my viewpoint is not really what you should base your strategy on.

    I think that I would put some up as advertising, enough to get a good taste of the book, and then put plenty of links for people to purchase the final product if they wish.

    I would recommend not publish any of the serial until the ebook was available, so that you can maximize the chances for someone who browses to the serial will purchase the book. That way you have a greater chance of getting a purchase from someone who browse once, thinks it is interesting, and forgets to come back.

  5. Lawrence Says:

    Thanks for the input!

    Going by the comments above, I’m looking at a twice-weekly serial of the first half of the book, more or less, starting after I upload the e-book to Amazon’s Kindle Direct.

    (I’d also make sure it was available elsewhere in e-pub format; the simplest way to do that, since Barnes & Noble doesn’t offer an easy self-publishing set-up, would be through Smashwords.)

    The paper edition will almost certainly be a print-on-demand trade paperback, as anything else requires more work, risk, and expense. I haven’t yet figured out whether Amazon’s CreateSpace or Lulu.com would be a better deal, but I’m pretty sure CreateSpace would be easier for casual browsers to find.

    I still need a cover. Hmm.

  6. Lawrence Says:

    Aha! Barnes & Noble does have a self-publishing set-up. They just hide it better than Amazon.

  7. James Eager Says:

    When there is a paper edition, then let us know the details. Don’t want an ebook version, have nowhere to read it. Don’t want a serialized version, I just save them up until it is done.

    Why the adversion to serialization? As a kid I read the first half of a good story. Found out my subscription to the magazine expired before the second half was published. Spent 35 years running down the second half of the story.

    Oh,and for the paper edition, No paypal either.

  8. Lawrence Says:

    The paper edition will most likely be sold through Amazon.

  9. J.T. Evans Says:

    I’d support a serial edition of “One-Eyed Jack” just like I have all of the others. It sounds like you want to release it fairly quickly, so you can set the threshold lower than the other serials you’ve done and it should come out faster. Of course, that’s up to you. I’d do no more than one chapter a week. Any more than that, and the anticipation will subside which may lead to lower interest. Just a thought.

  10. RM Says:

    Without the guarantee of a paper imprint at the end of the serial, I’m much more likely to just go ahead and buy the ebook instead of donating and waiting to read the chapters, but I would happily participate as always in the serial commentary. One negative there is that the book will already be done, and input would be less likely to result in a change/edit, which is unfortunate, as that is the best part of the serials, IMHO.

  11. Ryan Says:

    That sounds like a plan; it generates interest in the book (and your site) without obviating revenue or getting into the difficulty of sending books to donors.

    I’m also with the crowd who will probably just buy the book.

  12. raphfrk Says:

    On the comments thing, most people who comment are likely to also be the ones who would just buy the ebook outright.

    This would reduce the number of commenters. Also, it is hard to participate in a discussion if you already know the ending of the story.

    As an incentive to donate, it could be once a week or twice if there is enough donations. However, that is probably unnecessary, since the ebook would be available. Buying the ebook is just jumping directly to the end.

    There could be a donors/ebook buyers only thread or something for discussions, but that defeats the whole advertising objective.

    You would definitely need a “no-spoilers” rule for comment threads.

  13. Eric Says:

    Smashwords. I’ll buy it just to try it, but I want to be able to re-read it in 20 years so I won’t pay for DRM (which rules out KIndle and Nook)

  14. Lawrence Says:

    No, it doesn’t rule them out. Kindle and Nook both offer publishers the option of including DRM. I’m choosing not to, on both services, when I publish e-books through them.

    Yeah, most of the big publishers use DRM. Most of the big publishers are being idiots on the subject of e-books. B&N’s PubIt! is pretty neutral about DRM; Amazon’s KDP gently discourages it now.

  15. Lawrence Says:

    Incidentally, I’ve been trying to design a suitable cover for One-Eyed Jack, and it’s… daunting. Throwing together a quick ‘n’ dirty cover for a reprint short story is one thing — I’ve done a few of those — but coming up with an eye-catching cover for a new novel is something else entirely.

    I did come up with one that depicts a key scene from the novel, and I’m now thinking it gives entirely the wrong impression. Sigh.

  16. Eric Says:

    Honestly, I don’t care if the cover is just author/title/date.

    I vote you stick it up on Smashwords, let me buy it, take that money and spend it on your preference of tasty beverage, and ponder amazing cover art costs vs profits.

  17. Lawrence Says:

    Yeah, well, I’m working up my nerve to do something close to that. I have a cover I’m mostly satisfied with; gonna try a couple of things, tweak one detail, and then consider it done.

    Then I’ll need to get the text cleaned up and ready to go, and then it’ll happen.

  18. WTB Says:

    If your interested in professional help on a book cover I have a firend who is a commercial graphic artist who might be interested. She did the label and logo’s for my winery and they’re fantastic. Just stick a www in from of my e-mail address and then goto the wine list….It has examples of the label. Drop me an e-mail if your interested and I’ll hook you up.

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