Here in what Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler refer to as the “shadow industry” of self-publishing (I feel so clandestine!), trends come and go. Free books, 99-cent bundles, funnels—you name it, someone has a marketing strategy for it. Me, I dabble in some things (like the 99-cent bundle of six romantic mystery novels I’m in that’s coming out June 1) but mostly I just keep my head down, play on Facebook periodically, and write.
Until a trend began to bubble with such urgency that I had to lift my head, take the lid off, and have a look at what was in there.
As in, connected releases of about ten thousand words each, all ending on a cliffhanger that takes you to the next release 2–4 weeks later. Jane Friedman has a comprehensive discussion of serials at Writer Unboxed, if you’re interested. I’m pretty interested. In fact, I’m torn.
So many books, so little time.
Because in the five years between Books 4 and 5, when Claire and the Mopsies are at university and the lycée, respectively, there are still things going on, to wit:
- Alice and Jake are somewhere (where?) with her father and his wife and children.
- Snouts and the Lady launch a covert offensive against the Morton Glass Works in retribution for the mysterious burning of Toll Cottage.
- Peony Churchill and her mother are working on behalf of indigenous peoples … or are they?
- Gloria Meriwether-Astor now knows exactly what her father is … but what can she do about it besides run off to Paris and buy a new hat?
In my mind, these questions are ripe for serials. The Letters from the Lady epistolary series seeks to answer some of them, but even I can see that this would mean many boxes of letters, and the attic at Wilton Crescent has its limits. Would a serial be the answer? Say, the first chunk free, the next 99 cents, until an omnibus results that would be priced at some lower amount? The impatient could purchase upon release, and the prudent could wait for the omnibus.
I admit I am torn … and a little apprehensive. The Lady merely raises an eyebrow at me for worrying about things like this when Alice has just written to say she’s in trouble, and says nothing.
What are your opinions?