Self-published authors have found success in serialization.
Cross-pollination is the cousin to serialization that no one talks about.
I have some big promotional events coming up, but January can be the doldrums for sales. Many of us, me included, are sifting through our new reading from Christmas and looking forlornly at our VISA bills. Publishing is so easy now, but obscurity is hard. I thought it was time to do something to spark the imagination of readers. It’s time to build my readership and, I hope, new readers will review my books and spread the word.
That’s why, until the end of January, I’m giving away a very special story for free.
I have ebooks selling at various price points: 99 cents, $1.99 and $2.99 and one in paperback for $13.99. When the big promotional event hits, I expect there will be a run on the paperback and ebook of Self-help for Stoners. The Self-help for Stoners podcast is also going well with over 300 downloads already.
But why free and why now?
Honestly, my sales kind of suck so far and I’m trying to light a fire to signal rescue planes.
My gamble is that once I’m picked up, readers won’t want to stop the ride at just one story.
Book sales need momentum. Fortunately, I had just the right story in my holster to fit this pricing/gifting experiment. The story, Corrective Measures, stands on its own. However, two characters from this story appear in several of my other stories in two other books. I won an award for End of the Line, a short about Dr. Circe Papua. Hounded by an unscrupulous bill collector, she uses magical powers of persuasion to get him off her back. That story appears in Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun and profit). Dr. Papua shows up in different incarnations in several stories in that book, but also appears in Vengeance is #1, an ebook on sale for $1.99.
My main character from Corrective Measures is Jack, a serial killer and Dr. Papua’s patient. He tries not to kill anybody unless Dr. Papua says it’s okay, but after a minor argument over a parking space, Jack wants to murder a woman simply for pissing him off. (By the way, The Parking Lot Incident, happened to me. And no, there are no warrants out for my arrest.)
Here’s where the cross-pollination comes in:
Jack appeared in another award-winning story, The Clawed Bathtub, which is the last story in Sex, Death & Mind Control. I love it when stories nest beside each other. In Corrective Measures, there is a reference to events in The Clawed Bathtub that answers a question that was left a mystery in that story. Read one and you won’t notice the seams. Readers who buy them all will get a bigger picture and enjoy the inside jokes. I didn’t write the stories with this strategy in mind. That arose organically. I only write stories I need to write. However, these characters I know so well keep popping up. In The Fortune Teller, Papua is an old seer at a fair. In another story from Sex, Death & Mind Control (The Express) Dr. Papua is the same psychotherapist from Corrective Measures, but she’s dealing with an older version of Paul, the man who is abusive to women in The Fortune Teller.
You don’t need a flow chart or to keep score. It’s just that as I wrote about these characters, I found they had more to say than could be shoehorned into one story. There’s no timeline to follow. It’s about characters who are so compelling, I had to revisit them and explore them further. Each story explores extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances and makes it funny, suspenseful and scary. I found that as I wrote these stories, I pulled back on the gore because, frankly, the battery acid scenes would shock some readers out of the story. The results are tighter, more clever stories that make you think, make you laugh and make you a little more wary of strangers.
I hope you will be inspired to spread the happy word to your friends and through reviews.
I’ll let you know how this pricing/gifting experiment works out.
~ If we haven’t met yet, I’m Robert Chazz Chute, award-winning writer and bon vivant about town. Favorite quote from Corrective Measures? “You hair looks very…flammable.”
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