WARNING: Subject to headdesk and foot in mouth.  Please feel free to argue.  This is my learning experience, too, you know.

Okay, I haven’t tried any of these ideas yet; they’ve really only come up in the last few days, talking to fellow members of the marketing workshop.  But I thought I’d throw them out and see what came back…

With traditional novels and short stories, you’re told that each unit has to be a complete story (at least, until you make a name for yourself and can bully your way into multi-book series that don’t tie up neatly at the end of each book).  However, this was not always the case.  During the time when novels were serialized (and exchanged by lending libraries, often in thirds), units of stories were expected NOT to end in complete units, but rather in cliffhangers.

I don’t see any reason that epublishers can’t adopt the idea.

  • Write a short novel and give it away for free; sell the next novel in the series for full price.
  • Write a full novel.  Give the first half of the novel away for free, ending on a cliffhanger.  Sell the full novel for full price, with a link at the beginning that allows readers to jump to where they left off.
  • Write a serial novel, posting a limited amount of material for 99 cents, say once a month, each chapter ending with cliffhangers.  Also sell a subscription for the full price of the novel (4.99 OR 15.99 if you’re doing a POD version); readers will go on a mailing list that gets coupons for the stories every week and receive a copy of the novel when completed.  You might consider giving away the first story in the series away for free.
  • Anything you can give away for free will show up more often on free ebook sites.

One of the problems that we discussed was that some people just don’t write short stories.  I think serializing a novel (you don’t have to write it as you go; you can write the whole thing and break it up later) would be a good way to keep attention on your works if you’re not a short-story writer.

What are some other possibilities?