Just some pre-coffee thoughts here. When I think about what it is I do as an author I think: novels. Roughly about 80,000 words or so, hammered out every few months, with long arcs, a core of important characters and a distinct beginning and end.
Is that perhaps not too old-school? Am I stuck, anachronistically, in the 19th & 20th centuries? After all, with self-publishing the very paradigm is changing. People are reading novels on their phones, one can publish one’s material immediately (no longer waiting 18 months for the publisher), accepted prices range from $0.99 to $2.99, and attention spans are dropping.
It puts me in mind of Charles Dickens. He’d have loved serializing his stuff on Amazon. Put out a chapter or installment every month for $0.99 and had at it. Is that not perhaps the way to go? Rather than sell a whole novel for $0.99, should we as authors not be putting out 15,000 installments for the same price? Enough bang to justify the admittedly small buck, but with enough room to ramble and grow?
For example, consider The Wire. Probably one of the best shows ever made, with a vast cast, various complex main arcs, a whole ton of subplots, and a verisimilitude that was impossible to beat. What if one were to essay a fantasy version of The Wire? Release an episode every month of about 15k words, focusing on the same kind of structure and multiple plots? Would people be willing to pay $0.99 for each one? Pack in a bunch of DVD extras in each one by hyper-linking a la Cortazar Rayuela to content in the back. Hmm…
Now, a little number crunching. For ever $0.99 book you sell, you make about $0.30 cents (roughly). For every $2.99 book you sell, you make $2.00. So I’d have to sell six $0.99 books to make the some amount I get for the sale of one $2.99. So if I wrote 6 installments at 15k each, it would be the equivalent in both words and income of a 95k novel sold for $2.99. The goal therefore would be to write more than six installments, and hope that the model would lend itself to greater popularity amongst readers. almost doubly so.
What do you guys think? Would you be willing to pay $0.99 for a serialized fantasy novel written in the style of something like The Wire?