I chatted with Will Hahn recently about a collection of issues related to publishing a multi-book series like my Disciple. He asked great questions and it seemed like a good basis for a blog post.
The first four books [of Disciple] have come out on a fairly regular schedule, about five months apart, yes? Did you follow some established wisdom regarding that schedule? Was it related to the size or price of the books?
The spacing is mostly related to the production costs, and partly to the idea that keeping them coming regularly but not too quickly will keep attention on them.
There's also the factor of how publishing breaks up your writing schedule. I'm monogamous when it comes to writing projects, so you can see the hit that my writing output has taken since I started self-pubbing (2012: 289k, 2013: 162.6k). When I've got something on my editor's desk, I don't want to dig into a major project and have to put it down to revise my manuscript.
Spacing them out a bit gives me time to grind out another story in between. So far, it's been working out.
I note you priced the first book way down, as I intend to do. Was that from the start and will it be permanent, or did you put it on sale as the later issues came out?
Currently, it's 99 cents with occasional free promotions. I took it down to that price around when Part III came out. If you can price it in the impulse-buy range (currently 99 cents, sure to change with time) you'll balance cheapness with people who will actually read it.
Because free stuff gets snapped up because it's free. Not necessarily because it's interesting. When I gave away Part I for free around New Year's, I gave away a bit short of two thousand copies. That resulted in about 25 sales of Part II. Maybe there will be later sales due to people getting around to that freebie they downloaded months ago... maybe not. My follow-up rate for sold copies of Part I has been much better.
If it's not prying, do you have the entire Disciple story locked and loaded from the first book, or are you continuing to write as you go?
I had the first draft of Part VI (the ending) written before I published Part II. I wrote the series straight through with minor breaks in between the parts. Yes, I jokingly say that it's because I didn't want to be like GRRM and string my readers along... truth is, I can't afford to do that. If I drop the ball, there's no forgiveness in self-pubbing land.
So I wrote Disciple straight through and I intend to publish it straight through -- continuity of energy both ways.