By D.I. (David) Telbat (@DITelbat)
There you are, an author hanging off a cliff. The gorge below threatens to swallow you, but still, you lean farther out, offering yet another tantalizing novel to your fans. They reach for your inspired works as if their lives depend on your very words. If only you had more to give . . .
Okay, maybe we’re not under that much pressure to crank out another novel for our readers, but you’d still like to produce one more book each year. Between life happenings, your day job, and marketing your novels (or nonfiction), how could you possibly develop and edit another tome this year?
In her article, Turn Your Blog Into a Book Production Machine, Nina Amir explains how Joel Friedlander’s concept of “booking a blog” is one way to produce another book from all that writing you do. Though similar to what Nina describes as “blogging a book,” I approach this idea a little differently—by blogging an already completed work.
I’ve blogged books (in weekly chapters) for a few years, often to promote other books in my COIL Series. Thirsty readers need to be consistently watered or they might lose interest, even forgetting an author exists in the sea of clamoring novelists. The way I’ve chosen to blog books may guide you as you trek forward, making the most of your time and work.
Free is Good!
As we began our blogging endeavor, we discovered that FREE is a writer’s best friend, especially when you are new to the scene. Free provides a way for readers to discover you, to test your work, and to see if your voice appeals to them. So how does an author provide free without going in the hole? Many authors now offer the first in their series for free. I decided to produce a prequel novella for my series to offer as a free download. But posting short stories in the same genre as my novels seemed to be a good marketing idea for us.
I write Christian action-adventure, and post fresh content twice weekly—one fiction short story, or serialized novel chapter, and one related Author Reflection (nonfiction), which may be a glimpse into my writing research or a character interview. A few years ago, my assistant/editor, Dee, and I agreed that a manageable pace for us was to produce two full-length novels (80-100k words each) per year, besides maintaining the blog. As we began posting my short stories each week, we realized the posts could just as easily be book chapters! It was our answer to my underlying dilemma of how to produce more than two books a year on our already full schedule.
We selected a novel (under 40,000 words) that was on my shelf awaiting further drafts, and prepared the chapters to post weekly. Though I first began by posting 300-500 word chapter lengths, I soon learned that my readers wanted longer bites, so now we offer 800-1500 word posts. This is something each author will need to experiment with.
By posting weekly chapters, Dee found this to be no more of a work load than posting a regular story per week, and she could edit along the way. I include a “recap” each week on the previous chapter, and we leave chapter links on our Weekly Serial page for readers to catch up on past chapters if they so choose, until the serial is finished. Subscribers receive full chapters in their email inboxes.
Now, for some novels, I write in post-length chapters, in case they become part of the weekly blog. Though I’ve read that other novelists blog their first drafts as they write their books, I prefer to post only finished works. My early drafts aren’t worth sharing, so I would rather the novel be a completed product.
Dee edits and prepares my weekly chapters much as she would post any other content. Our intent is to turn each freely-posted novel into another eBook that we wouldn’t have had time to produce otherwise.
At the conclusion of the story, we pull it all together into one document, and thoroughly edit it again as a final work. As Nina mentions in her article, Amazon’s KDP Select program won’t allow already-published works to be included in their program (yes, blogging your novel is considered published by most), but the regular KDP publishing platform allows the inclusion. I add new chapters, and/or a prologue, to provide new material before publishing. Nina recommends leaving off 20% of your book when you blog it.
You’ve probably heard that the best promotion you can possibly do, is to publish another book. This means, for myself, producing a fresh novel every few months to stay in readers’ minds. By blogging at least one book per year in combination with the two we’re able to schedule, we’re producing a new novel about every four months.
A posted novel is free initially, and is a great promotion, but it’s also a time for you to get a feel from your readers before you publish it as an eBook (or other format). How do readers like the story flow? Are they drawn to the cover? Does it need a prologue or require more dimension for a certain character? Reader feedback is a necessity for your posted novel to work at its best.
I recently queried my readers, asking if they liked the serialized novel format of my blog. It was unanimous of responders that they enjoyed reading the continued stories. Some said they buy the eBook even after they’ve read it a chapter at a time. So, publishing in this format doesn’t seem to hurt sales of books. At least two of my published serialized novels continue to be included on Amazon’s top-100 Best Seller list in their categories.
We’ve posted weekly two full-length novels and three novellas by this method over the last few years (and are in the midst of another). Exposure to our site through give-away blogged chapters definitely led to an increase in book sales. Readers commented that they were introduced to my novels through reading the weekly posts. But I also put links in the back of each book, offering them free weekly stories on my blog.
Professional covers add to the marketability of your blogged books, especially when a cover is displayed on your site while the book is being posted. Two of our winners are below. These were read avidly on our site as serials and still continue to sell well on Amazon.
With subscriber numbers increasing, high ratings on my books, and high post open-rates, we are inclined to believe posting novels, one free chapter a week, is the right track for us to grow at a manageable rate. Instead of hanging off a cliff, dangerously overwhelmed with producing more books each year, blogging a novel may be the answer for you. Wishing you great success!
| Past blogged novels:
God’s Colonel (futuristic, End Times novel)
Soldier of Hope (POW survival action-adventure novella)
About the Author
D.I. Telbat writes Christian suspense and adventure novels, many times focusing on the Persecuted Christian Church. The COIL Series books are his most popular works. He offers FREE weekly short stories, or serialized novels, on his Telbat’s Tablet site, as well as his Author Reflections on writing, research, and challenges to the Christian church. Visit http://ditelbat.com to learn more about David Telbat and his novels.
Photo credit: Stuart Miles | Free Digital Photos