I Have an Announcement
October 2, 2012
Posted in Publishing
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I also said I’d take a publishing deal with Amazon – even if it was for like a $1.50
I’m an indie publisher at heart, and traditional publishing simply doesn’t fit with my model. There are too many things traditional publishers get wrong – at least for the way I prefer to do business – that Amazon gets right, or at least does better out of the gate. Because they know where things are going, or at least have fewer clouds in their crystal ball than any of the Big Six, and have provided the Collective Inkwell with the platform that’s supported our efforts so far, aligning myself with Amazon makes sense.
As a ghostwriter, the faster I wrote and the higher quality I was able to produce in any given time had a direct impact on the money I was able to make. Once Kindle exploded, I knew I could make exponentially more by writing for myself than I ever could writing for others. Even if it took me a year (or two) to get there and I nearly starved before I did. The choice for my future was clear.
It took Dave and me several months to find our feet, even making the stupid mistake of dabbling in print with our first few titles, before finally settling on our ideal model with serialized fiction late last summer.
We launched Yesterday’s Gone episode one in the final week of July, then finished our first season on October 3, 2011.
Yesterday’s Gone was far from an overnight success. While there were some people intrigued by the model – mostly entrepreneurs – the vast majority of feedback from readers and fellow writers was that serialization didn’t and wouldn’t work. People simply weren’t willing to buy their books in pieces.
I agree, but our critics had a fundamental misunderstanding of what we were trying to do.
Dave and I were never trying to serialize books, we were creating a new style of entertainment. Readers have shorter attention spans, e-books make it easy to create single serving experiences, and the golden age of scripted television has primed our population to mine the same vibe from their reading.
We started by changing the language of our stories, calling them episodes and seasons rather than books and volumes. We modeled our writing after the rhythms we’ve thoroughly enjoyed with cable serials like The Sopranos, Dexter, Breaking Bad, and too many others to list here.
As I said, Yesterday’s Gone didn’t exactly start out with a BANG! In October we did 60 guest posts, profiles and interviews to support our first full season, most on high profile sites like Copyblogger, Jane Friedman, and Jonathan Fields. All together, these barely moved the dial.
We sold 100 copies that first month. In other words, pathetic.
But we knew we were doing the right thing, and stuck with it, immediately getting started on our second season. By the second week of January, we knew we had a hit. And more importantly, we knew we had a model.
As ridiculously difficult as it was (and is) to maintain, Dave and I decided that to be the HBO, AMC or Showtime of Kindle, we had to create a similar experience for our readers. That didn’t just mean creating superb series, we also had to create consistency with our releases.
We could never leave our readers hungry…
Just as cable networks end each of their seasons with a new show the following Sunday, we would have to develop multiple series and space them throughout our year as well.
When Yesterday’s Gone’s second season ended in February, we immediately followed it with ForNevermore. When that was finished, we followed with WhiteSpace, each series gathering sharper reviews and further validated our model.
The most difficult part of what we’re doing isn’t the pace, it’s the faith it takes to believe in the model. Because we price our product at .99 during the first several weeks (before the full season is available) there is very little profit during the first two months of each season. We would easily make more freelancing. And worse, as proven with Yesterday’s Gone, it’s difficult to make anything substantial until your second season is live.
But Dave and I agreed to play the long game, building a base of series that would give us an incredible 2013. The hard work is nearly finished. We’re in the middle of our first season of Available Darkness (an AWESOME vampire thriller), and will end the year with five in-house series.
There are two more titles on the way, for a grand total of seven.
More on that in a minute.
A few weeks back, Amazon launched their “Amazon Serials” program. This was tremendous news for Dave and I since it validated the model. Even being invite only, we figured we would win big since Amazon was spending a lot of their own dollars and marketing to send the message that “serials were cool.”
But things quickly went from good to great when Amazon’s sci-fi and horror publishing arm, 47North, approached us about creating a serial for them.
We said of course, and now have two in production. Both will be live by the end of this year.
The first is called Z 2134, and could best be described as “The Walking Dead meets The Hunger Games, set in a 1984 style world.” Like all of our other titles, Z 2134 will unfold in six installments.
Our second series with Amazon, Monstrous, also six episodes, will follow immediately after Z. Monstrous is “Beauty and the Beast meets Spawn,” though like the pitch for “Z” it does little to convey the Sam Jackson with a snow cone cool of this project.
One of the things I love most about Amazon is their velocity, moving at approximately 3,172 times the speed of a traditional publisher. But it’s also what’s killing me right now.
Dave and I have approximately 200,000 words worth of top quality copy to produce in the next two months. I’m looking forward to every word, and have never been happier, but I also have no illusions about the difficulty of what lies ahead.
I’ll still be around, and will look forward to the Hangouts as a break from the insanity. Mostly, I wanted you to be first to know, especially since I wasn’t allowed to say anything until this morning! I’ve been very excited.
If you’d like to see how it all started, Yesterday’s Gone has the second season available for free today. You can get it here:
If you’ve already read Yesterday’s Gone, tell a friend and send them the link. You can be one of the cool kids who knew about it first.
This is still the only place I’m planning to blog, and it still will be subscription only, so if you have a friend you think would like what’s happening here, please send them a link to this page and they can opt-in to the box below.
I did it. So can you!
Talk to you soon.