The Ebook version vs. your serial

I'm compiling the first part of the serial now and was curious about the others who have gone to ebook (and perhaps print) before. Who was your ebook for?

For example -- did you try to entice any of your subscribers to buy the compiled book? Or did you gear your ebook towards the tablet/ereader crowd (who doesn't necessarily enjoy either serials or reading online).

And in putting together the ebook - what effort did you take in preparing it from the serial. For example:

* Did you finish the serial and just clean it up (i.e., light revisions + copyediting) for an ebook?

* Did you add anything new to the content exclusive to the ebook?

Is there precedent for "draft/early" versions? Sort of like "review copies" that are generated with print versions? Have any of you re-issued an ebook (i.e., fix errors or add new content) and gotten blowback for doing that?


I'm assuming that my ebooks are the same audience (taste-wise) as for the serial, but some will come to the serial first and some to the book first. So I'm not really targeting one or the other. It see it more like releasing a book for Nook as well as for Kindle. Two formats.

I tend to do my rewriting during the original writing process, and plot very tightly so that you can't make major changes to any part without having to tear the whole thing apart... therefore, I do not make major changes to the ebook version, even if I intended to in the first place. (I made one major change to the beginning of The Case of the Misplaced Hero, but I did that soon after I wrote those opening episodes. I realized that conceptually, having a non-present narrator wasn't working.)

I did edit and "loosen up" the language and details. I wrote that series to be VERY tight and very short episodes, so I added back in things I cut. (I did not do this as much as I expected, though.)

I haven't sold many copies, so I can't say that mine is a successful strategy, but I hope to sell more when that series starts back up in April. We'll see.

Has anyone here ever taken down old seasons of a serial, to encourage people to buy them? I know some authors who feel you should do that with all posted web fiction -- just put it up temporarily -- but I don't know that I'm keen on that idea.


Hey, I cleaned up the first two volumes of Jovan and stuck them on Smashwords within a few months of finishing them. Other than doing a proper proof and fixing some language I didn't do much, but I also don't charge for them. After the serial is finished I intend to do a more extensive continuity edit and then consider whether I might start charging.

I tend to recommend people coming in new to the story read the eBooks rather than the "first draft" serial version, but I still see a lot of people tracking through the website archives. The only annoying thing is not being able to track referrers to the eBook site on Smashwords. As a stats addict, I'd like to know whether people are mostly getting there through the site or other channels.

I reissue the books reasonably frequently as I make tweaks or catch other errors. On Smashwords at least, people can access any reissues done after they bought the book, so they won't have to pay again to access an amended/improved version, which would probably minimise blowback, depending on how extensive the edits were.

A lot of this was discussed just last week in the thread "turning a web serial into a book" it has 42 responses if you scroll down the list a little.

This is an interesting question. I find that the earlier the serial was for me, the more clean-up it needed. My first serial, Flight of the Godkin Griffin, has needed some pretty harsh editing to tidy it up... my last serial, Black Blossom, needed a few typos fixed.

In general, though, the e-book version of the serial is the serial version. I don't tend to add special materials to it. The print editions might have fancy scene separators (like Black Blossom's; I drew some flowers for it). If anything, the book editions don't have some of the things the serials do, like the meta-conversations between characters and the special encyclopedia/sketches/etc posts. Plus, they're missing the conversations readers have on each entry, which are often very interesting! The ones for the Aphorisms and Admonishments were like reading the discussions in an ethics class. Fascinating stuff!

I find the serial readers often buy one of the "book" editions. But in general I issue them to reach a broader audience.

I don't quite have enough data to say this for certain, but I think my webfiction archives and my for-sale books synergize well. I get emails from people who tell me they bought the ebook of Pay Me, Bug! after reading a chapter or two online and deciding they liked it. Obviously not everyone does that, but I figure people will be swayed by the convenience of being able to take the fiction on the go instead of being forced to be online sitting at a desk in order to read.

I'm starting to get sales with Curveball as well (one guy told me he waits for the ebook to come out before he reads it, which is kind of a kick. I'm pricing each issue 50 cents higher than Scalzi and I still get sales. Maybe I ought to bring it back down to .99 now that Scalzi has made it respectable again.

The trick, I found, is add a BUY IT link in a location that readers can see no matter where they are in the book. If you look at and you'll see it in the menu right over the splash graphic, and that menu persists through every chapter, the about page, and even (to a limited extent) the podcast page. The link goes to my storefront that lists prices and a link to every location where it can be sold.

It works--I don't have enough traffic to determine exactly how well it works, but based on enthusiasm of the emails I've been getting when it works it works pretty well.

Gavin - I did read that thread and really don't think it addresses my question. I'm in a different sort of camp than Jim . Like Camille (and perhaps a few others in this thread), the construction of the serial I have is not similar. It can't really be taken apart.

What kind of makes me puzzled at this point is that based on what Uber and Camille are saying is that no one is sure there is a link between the serial and ebook form. I guess I might as well play the evil card and charge a modest price for the ebook format. (It is basically the serial, but with light editing , particularly in the first few chapters. I wanted to fix some bad habits that were pointed out to me along the way as well as match writing style just a bit better.)

I am adding a statement to the front matter that the "book" is adapted from the serial and give a URL (which hopefully Smashwords doesn't kill). If they want to check out the serial for free and don't want to pay, I don't mind it much. I'd rather not have people asking for their money back later.

Suz - because of what you said about Smashwords and version reissues, I'll try their meatgrinder. I really don't want to (and Draft2Guide is really awesome at the conversion), butI don't know about how they handle version changes/reissues.

Uber- Yeah, thinking about putting in a box /footer for the "buy book" option at some point. Right now I feel like everything's a little too fluid, so I don't want to aggressively push this on the serial site.

So here's what I've learned in my own project so far....

Mind the Thorns is a web serial that I wanted to make available as eBook and print "Issues" of 3 Chapters. They were targeted to:

1) People who wanted to support the webnovel by buying something to pay me for the work.

2) People who really prefer to read print editions in hand

3) People who want to collect the issues because the book is just that cool.

I was working on the model of a comic book or a graphic novel as I did this. I was also trying to stay on a formula of posting a chapter a week, and then having an issue available every 3 weeks, with a one week delay between posting a chapter and sending the 3 chapter issue to be printed. MtT is reader-directed so the most important thing to me was to drive traffic to the website to get people engaged and voting, not just sell copies.

I took it a step further and registered the first two issues on Goodreads as "books" and started to try to use Goodreads marketing to publicize the project and get some interest. I also put the first issue up for "Giveaway" and received 200+ requests for the 10 copies I made available.

Here's what I learned:

1) Despite the fact that the giveaway was stated to be an "Issue" of only 3 chapters many people expected a 200 page novel and reviewed it down because of that.

2) Very few people want to buy a 3 chapter issue on Amazon. I have been able to "sell" them at signings and craft shows but I am selling them at a loss so it's mostly me giving them away to get interest and hoping that ad revenue makes up the difference.

3) Smashwords does not permit the posting of Serials, only "completed novels". While a novel does not need to resolve all conflicts, a three chapter "part" of a longer work, regardless of how it's priced, is against their TOS. I was asked to remove the issues from Smashwords until the entire novel is finished and ready for general consumption. While I understand, this does little to drive traffic to the polls that make the Reader Directed model work. I was a little miffed about this given that you can buy short stories there and a novel does not need to have a clear "end" (at least not as I might define it) but, meh, whatchagonnado?

Thanks for sharing, MrOsterman!

In general, there does seem to be a barrier to serials not just from a tech standpoint but from the audience. Kindle serials early comments were kind of meh even on their own Kindle reader boards.

I do recall that Kindle had a blog sub program of some sort at one point and IIRC Tales of Mu and Meilin Miranda were some of the early experimenters with that but I don't know if they ever posted the details of what happened with that. That mechanism might work better with your goals of driving people to your site, although the price point remains kind of an uneasy quesiton in my mind. I don't know how you can charge for blog access unless premium content is included....

Regarding the audience issue - I think I'm agreed with you on the ebook. By putting in a pricepoint (with no donations having been requested previously) it is an opportunity for

(Stealing your words)

1) People who wanted to support the webnovel by buying something to pay me for the work

2) People who really prefer to read a seamless edition offline and not using Wattpad

3) Targeting the audiences who HATE serials :)

4) Helping current readers in groups 1/2 help me with "3" and spreading the word

I'm going to announce a huge coupon pretty much for all of February and hoping my appeals to the crowd work. I really just want to grow the number of people who read my work and talk to me about it. (I would just about die for fanart and crack fanfic at this point.)

Your advice on Goodreads is helpful. I'll take any more you have to give :) I've been palying around in groups but find mostly authors, not readers. But now that I'm thinking about it, I have a few I can return to and just GO HEY THERE, FREE BOOK and see what happens.

Charging for the ebook is not the "evil card" -- I think that's pretty much standard practice. (If people want it free, they can read it online.)

As for mentioning that it is the collected episodes of a serial: absolutely. It's a part of the description, and for much of your audience it will be a sales pitch. First, for your existing audience, who may be looking to get their hands on all the episodes in one place, it tells them that this is what they want -- and if they are looking for a sequel, it also tells them that this is not a different story.

And for many people in general, the "as seen on TV" sort of pitch adds a psychological boost. This is an established property and therefore more interesting.

BUT... putting in the url in the book description would be tacky. It's fine to put it in the "about the author/series" notes, though.


By and large I stay away from Goodreads. There is, apparently, plenty of grief to be found there, and who needs grief?

Still. I keep trying to figure out ways to make it work. GR seems to work pretty well for YA authors (they also seem to generate the most grief.)

On the Goodreads front all I can say more is that you should remember that it's a website for ~readers~ first and foremost. Independent authors have a pretty bad rep around most of the site and it's not totally undeserved. Some people are pretty cool, but many groups actively discourage writers from taking part in them because it can just be a hotbed of drama. It also seems like half the blog articles I've read about "Authors behaving badly" have some mention of Goodreads in them somewhere.

It's not a bad site over all for authors but I found that for the time I spent there I was better of connecting with reviewers, bloggers, other writers or just plain writing. I have a few contacts through it but honestly I've had just as much luck with Wattpadd for that.

DN: I handled the serial aspect in two ways. The word "Serial" appears in the description (without a reference to where) and the origin as a serial appears in the acknowledgements/front matter as well as being referenced at the end as a blog link. In spite of the flag waving, I fully accept people will still not get it, but I tried :)

As for Goodreads, mostly I lurk on author groups (as well as the webfic group) although have fun talking to people in random hobby groups. I'm aware of the drama and so, at times, wonder whether it's worth it to cross it to the dark side of "author" there because then you are somewhat expected to stay in your "lane."

The one thing I really like at GR though is that the sci-fi/fantasy folks havea few really fun places to hang out and talk books. For whatever reason Geek and Sundry runs their book discussions through GR so it's impossible to avoid going there if you like fantasy :)

Hmm.... a webfic group you say? Fascinating.

The only updside to the drama is if you can get yourself into it ~enough~ to get attention but still come out looking like you did not "behave badly". It's not impossible but what gets me is that so many bloggers love to write about an author having a bad reaction to a review and that all but assures that said author also gets a few hundred more views on their work. And if they don't behave ~that~ badly, they might even get more sales out of it. After all.... Save the Pearls is getting a sequel....

I just don't do well in communities that expect me to shut up. :-)