First let me briefly tick off the benefits I see of serially publishing Advance Review Copies (ARCs) of my novels:
- It gets the books into your hands faster.
- It causes readers to visit my blog every day, which helps you not forget about me in between books (some of you do, believe me--more about this below).
- It puts me on a tighter writing and publishing schedule and makes me more efficient. Once I had the outline for LM&M 6 done (mostly in my head), it took less than three months to write and publish the 100,000 word book, start to finish. I think I could write three books a year this way, taking one month "breaks" in between them to brainstorm and create the new outlines.
- This approach gives me an edge over traditionally published authors who have contracts with the largest publishing houses. Due to their relatively slow publishing schedules (one book per year) and the associated bureaucracies, most of them would find this way of working extremely challenging.
- Readers of the serial blog posts help catch typos and continuity errors (thank you for that!)
- Last but not least, as an author, this approach gets me more involved with readers, causes more interaction between us. Readers are everything to me--without you, I really have no reason to write.
First, I was also afraid it would be stressful, but this didn't turn out to be the case. Having now written more than 25 books, I find that I make very few significant changes to my manuscripts between the first and final drafts these days (aside from correcting typos, etc., of course). Also, I don't believe in this notion of "writing yourself into a corner." Think about real life--you must solve all your problems when they occur, using the resources you have at hand--none of us can go back in time and change anything. So, if you, as an author, feel like you have written yourself into a corner, I don't think you are being creative enough. Readers are always impressed if you can get your hero out of an impossible-seeming jam.
Finally, about the question of lost sales--I will discuss this below with the relevant data.
Here are the survey results:
This proves my point - more than half of the readers who read Lust, Money & Murder Book 6 on my blog have just finished Book 5 ("Was directed there at the end of Book 5" at top). This implies most are new readers of mine, meaning that they probably just started reading the series a few weeks or months ago. Since the series has been published and selling well for almost five years, you would think a lot more old readers would be lapping up a free copy of Lust, Money & Murder 6. Many of them simply don't know it's available. Unless they have signed up to my VIP Reader List, I have no way of contacting them (Amazon nor any other ebook retailer will share their contact information with authors--we have no idea who buys our books unless you, the reader, contacts us). I am constantly amazed when, at least once a week, someone contacts me on the social networks and says, "Hey, Mike, LM&M Book 4 is out? Wow. I didn't even know!"
This was what I expected, as the number of people web surf on tablets and phones is steadily increasing due to cheaper devices (including ereading tablets) and smartphones with bigger, higher resolution screens.
This result was a little surprising - I expected more people to complain that the posts were too short. The length I shot for was 1,500 words, but sometimes I got on a roll and published 2,000 or even 3,000.
This is about what I expected - two thirds of you will buy it even though you have read it already, and one third won't. A few respondents were concerned that I would "lose money" from this approach, but you have to remember that this book will only have been free on my blog for a small fraction of the time that it will be available to buy--a few months versus many years. My instincts are that the goodwill I am creating with the serial ARC publishing, and the new, long-term readers who discover my books this way (new traffic to my blog), will more than make up for any lost sales during that relatively short three month period when the book is free.
This was also a little surprising, especially a couple of rather--how shall we say?--aggressive commenters who said they would not buy my books anymore if I publish an ARC serially again. I found this a little odd, as all they have to do is simply ignore the serial posts and buy the book the normal way when it comes out. Maybe they don't have the required willpower, which I suppose is a compliment to me. But it seems like they could practice a little more self-control, knowing that this approach results in me putting out more books, faster, which is ultimately what they want.
The comments that readers made in response to all these questions are pasted in below.
Thanks again to all of you who took the time to complete this survey and of course a huge thanks to all of your who buy and read my books!
P.S. A huge thanks to my Forbidden coauthor Devika Fernando, who "pre-proofread" my serial posts every day and caught tons of errors.
How did you find out that Lust, Money & Murder Book 6 was being published serially on my blog?
From the barnes and noble app
Partner told me
Had been anxiously watching for it and doing random searches.
On your website about another of your books...wrote back to you that I was really looking forward to book 6, which was past the release date you had mentioned at the end of book 5.
I read the serial book from your blog on my:
Read the weekly blogs then loaded the book by chapter 42 through end
Also read on smartphone
I downloaded book 1 for free on Kindle
I downloaded right now the full epub edition
printed out each chapter..a lot of paper.
The average length of the each serial post was:
Don't know. See 2.
Too short - but only because I wanted to keep going! Unputdownable!!
Regardless of how long, it would have always been too short but enjoyed the discipline. :)
About right, however I can't hardly wait to read the next post!!!
When the actual final version of ebook comes out for sale next week I will buy/not buy (please explain):
I already know the storyline.
Because I already read it. I can't read a book twice much like watching a movie when you've already seen it.
I already read it ??
I don't generally re-read books.
It's getting too expensive...
Already read it.
Bought 1 through 5 and purchased 6 with free discount code
love reading it
I can only read a book once as you know the end second time round
I already have it saved
Just to have to read again
I like the series and am looking forward to the next trilogy.
I read the updates on my iPad but would like the book on my kindle which is an old style and I can't download updates on there
its been a great book
Cat is only meant to have nine lives, he's on his tenth, and like the artist should be vulnerable, not super human invincible . How about ELAINE boy grows up and ( now you have a new hero or villain,!)
To read how it ends for Catoretti
If there is more added in the final I will. I am a little unclear on how this works. I love your books and will start another of your latest
I bought the earlier segments. I considered this one your gift to me:)
Lack of time.
Bot the first 5 would have bot #6 vs this water torture of a few chapters each week. Let me know if you plan on doing this again, I will not buy the first book.
want to have the complete series
I purchased the first 5 books for my Nook. I'd like the full set to re-read in the future.(And I think the author deserves it.)
cant book series
I' ve to buy the books 4 & 5.
Well, I have already ready it and I generally do not re-read a book.
not sure yet
Have to know the rest, I hate waiting
I read it and enjoyed it and am looking forward to book 7
Because ive already read it!
I am satisfied with the story as it is
I would like to have the finished version to go with the rest of series.
Love your books.
So that I can have the whole book on my Nook.
It's great and I'll have it all in one piece
Depending on funds available to me
I am down to the last chapter of the last chapter.
I prefer to read the whole thing uninterrupted
Because i already read the 1-5 books and since i have read the book 6 serially, I know how it ended so I don't need to read it again. I love your books and will read everything you will ever write. i admire your talent and your books are awesome.
not sure, having already read it
I don't re-read often.
When I finish a book I'm finished
As I have now read it and will be anxiously awaiting book 7,to buy! For the record,I have brought all of mike's books,so the vip advance edition was a welcome bonus for a committed fan! Please hurry with book7!!
I've already bought each edition seperately
To reread it.
I have read it
Because I have read it
Because I have bought all the other books and would love to have a proper copy to re-read when ever I like
Are you kidding! Just can't put it down, keep up the good work, love the way you write, thank you
Because I've read it
I've already read it, but I will review it.
I have already read it in the blog. I would prefer to buy the book and read when and how much I want.
I already read it here so no need to buy.
I just can't get enough of it.
I've already read it; may change my mind
Gotta know how it ends. I'm hooked
I've already read it, why buy it?
I read it with the intent to pay for it.
Want it saved and maybe for other family members. I have all of the others.
I bought the earlier ones and have now read the whole story (so far!).
Want the whole series in my iBook library. Also want to see if the grammatical errors have been fixed...heh.
To read the book in its final version in case anything changed.
Would like to read it again in the future
Love the series, and it's the least I can do after you provided us with free reading...brilliant!
I would rather just read books on my kindle when I want for as long as I want
Want a complete collection
Loved it, will read again at a later date.
It was a very enjoyable read that I would like to be in my personal library with the rest of your books
Having read each daily download a couple of times, I don't need to read it again. Will go onto another series..
I already read it. Getting digital books is not like getting hard cover books that look nice on shelves and can be shared with friends. But I will review this time when it is on Amazon.
Any further comments, criticisms, suggestions, etc. of my serial publishing approach and the VIP Reader Advance Edition?
Truly enjoyed the books! Thank you for the joy and suspense you bring to my eyeballs.
Great read... Really liked your style and character depth... Thank you
I find this approach most enjoyable and like the readers ability to interact...
I am willing to read as it is written and be made to purchase to find out how it ends. If it is written as well as the others it would be worth the purchase. I do not want to wait a long time until the whole book is written to find out what's next!
Hurry up with the next ones ??
Thoroughly enjoyed the serial, couldn't wait for the next part . Would have liked the sections to be longer. Hope 7 won't be too long to be published.
Brilliant story line well thought out
I was frustrated and would like to read each book as a whole
Thoroughly enjoying each day's publication. A riveting story - always left with a cliff hanger. Can't wait to see what next week will bring. Thank you.
I like it very much as it limits my reading time so I can do other things like daily tasks. The weekend delivery is great.
Please publish book in its entirety before releasing. They are great and worth the money. Elaine Brogan was a more developed character than Heather Bancroft. Heather had no background as an athlete, special traine like Elaine. Elaine's physical feats were more believable than Heather's. My only comment, not necessarily a criticism, more of my opinion & observation. I am male, 58..CEO of large insurance co, and love your international Intrigue novels I don't read horror. Thanks for your great books. Rick Kline
Really looked forward to the updates, thank you
It's been a GREAT ROLLERCOASTER RIDE there Mike. Cheers
Never done it before it was exciting and marvelous to look forward to eah week
Need more material to read at a time
If you can figure out a way I would pay.
I love this format, it keeps the suspense building...I have not read a book like this since "The Green Mile" . I loved it !
Please keep sending emails once the books 7, 8 and 9 are ready.
Tell us ahead of time if any book will be a serial down the road and I will abstain from buying it altogether.
Brilliant! You're the first serial author I've read. Discovered you on Twitter. You have awesome pacing, great dialogue and a writing style that truly makes for an "unputdownable" read.
The daily doses made it easier to fit in some reading time. (no quilt)
Your books are great. They are really addictive through. I can't put them down. Stay up all night reading.
I thought it was brilliant, but as i said before, I like to read at certain times, and being given a couple of chapters was not my idea of reading at the time when I wanted to spend quality time with a great story.
Thanks for the updates. Always great reading your work.
ORDER ON KINDLE MORE CONVENIENT TO READ
By being able to read the book in advance I really did feel like a VIP!! & I know you posted the draft version by accident - but I loved reading that & seeing your ideas before they even got to paper! - Sorry - I had already read it all - before I got the email to delete it!! :o) LOVE your books Mike!! THANK YOU SO MUCH! x
Maybe it would have been nice to find out if Lexy and the baby ended up with a settled life.
This was absolutely awesome. It was the highlight of my week when your email came. You are my favorite new writer. I wish I had found you before. You keep me on the edge of my seat with each update. I have recommended you to all my friends that enjoy the same kind of books that I do. You are FANTASTIC!
Keep up the good work but take a vacation first, you need the break.
I much prefer reading a complete book. Reading chapters is for kids. I can read a book in one day. Having second thoughts about reading any more of your books. Sincerely, bunny WASSERMAN. 84 yrs old and have cancer but recovering. Good luck to you!!!!!
You are a great writer. English is my second language. I don't speak or write it much. However, I was able to follow your story as if I knew all the events, places, actions myself. Especially, Elaine, Luna, Giorgio I felt I knew them personally. This shows that you connect to your readers wonderfully. Keep up the good work. Andy Winnipeg, Canada
I think it was great and very generous of you to give your readers this option and I enjoyed it, even though I would rather have the whole book at the same time.
Thanks for all your hard work and wonderful reads.
You are very creative. I hope you can keep the thrillers coming!
I love the commitment you have to your loyal fan base and the advance editions were welcomed by me,but I would love 7,8,9 to be published together ASAP,for those of us who just cannot wait!
A serial action olot did not work for me . To chopped up. Bloat its momentum and couldn't remember wher I left off. I finally started to read it in Friday's only which helped
Can't wait for more, hope we don't have to wait a long time. I am glad I get e-mails to keep me updated.
I appreciate the weekly downloads on different reading devices. Many thanks, Mike Wells.
Great as usual. Looking forward to the chapters. Thank you for putting it on your blog.
Enjoy your books ...thanks
Love your work. Keep it up :) I don't have anything bad to say. Looked forward to reading the book day by day. Thank you for another great read
I really enjoyed every book
Innovative brilliant approach
You are a great "keep us on the edge of our seats story teller, I am hooked on your characters and the way you write, keep it coming-nanny sparkle
Just would like to know when the next lot are published to purchase them
Love the story.
Its a Good approach
I will get the books on my Kindle when they come out. I hope to receive a notice when they do.
You are so awesome! I'm reading another series of yours now.
It was a great read...full of surprises and adventure. Mike is a great writer and if he finds this approach lends to his creativeness, it will be a win, win for both Mike and the reader.
Quite interesting. I hope it does not cost sales. I think the interest raised will actually increase sales.
I liked the serial approach as it gave me an episode to anticipate each day. When I bought the first books I tended to devour them and then feel an emptiness when finished.
it was difficult to read via the ipad for both my wife and myself, so we went to the Mac. But throughly enjoyed ourself's.
Loved not having to wait. Would like longer excerpts, as I prefer to read for a longer length of time. (Retired so I have a out of time to read.). Wish I could review your grammar, spelling, and punctuation for you. It drives me crazy. Love this story, though.
I'm a satisfied reader and looking forward to the next book.
Wonderful series! I love all the characters, and you developed them so well I found myself actually liking The Cat at certain times. I would love to see something happen with Dmitri....a series of his own maybe? :)
It's about time for Cattoretti to be caught !
Excellent work and story! Love thriller and suspense stories.
Thank you for being such interactive authour! I feel you are a part of all of us:)
I will not read any more books this way
Pls publish post daily earlier instead of afternoon
It was a good idea. It gave me a few minutes of escape from my routine.
Love being able to read a little every day. Loved this book!
Thank you. Wonderful book! I did truely enjoy it. Keep the books coming. You have a great style of writing.
As the book went on I looked forward to it every day. For me the down side was having to wait for the weekend to be over to continue reading. My preference would be the book in it's entirety, but either way I'm hooked and will continue reading all your books. Thanks for a great series!
I,ve enjoyed Reading it every morning.It was a Nice thing, what you did for your readers. I have a question, how did Lexy escape from the boat, after G.C. Escape with the paintings. Thank you, i see forward for book 7. Escuse my english, i'm not use to write english. Violeta Jourdain
This is a very fun and intriguing approach to publishing. I would love to see stories from other series' that you are working on published in this method.
Your style on writing is top notch and u must say I enjoyed every bit of the story. Hope to read in advance book 7 8 and 9 .
This approach is excellent, I love it., such a great way to read a book. You know just where to leave the reader hanging before the next chapter, certainly builds the excitement.