With the end of September, Wearing the Cape is now into its sixth month of publication. Villains Inc. Episode One has finished its first month, and Villains Inc. Episode Two is now available as scheduled (whew!).
How is it going so far? It’s a learning experience. First, I’m learning the strength of book series and realizing why publishing houses love them so much; it took nearly three months for Wearing the Cape to reach 100 sales/week, while Villains Inc. Episode One not only achieved that benchmark instantly, it has mirrored–and often exceeded–Wearing the Cape’s daily sales. Almost half the time, VI:1 beats WtC in the Amazon rankings. Villains Inc. Episode Two has been out only one day, and it seems ready to repeat this pattern (plus a little extra while previous purchasers play catch-up).
What does this mean in sales thus far? The unofficial September numbers (real numbers published by KDP on the 15th) are Wearing the Cape: 930; Villains Inc. Episode One: 891. So over the month of September, WtC sales have experienced roughly 80% growth (511 copies sold in August), and VI:1 has gotten off to a tremendous start. I will clear $2,000 this month, a 100% increase on August’s royalties, a promising trend.
So now, having posted Episode Two: Pursuit on Amazon yesterday, what have I learned about episodic writing? First, I’m glad I decided on this publication style because it got me past the “second-book block” I found myself in. I was also worried that the sequel wouldn’t be as well-received as Wearing the Cape; so far, both sales numbers and reviews seem to show I’m doing a good job keeping up the story-quality. Also, having close deadlines helps; knowing I have to publish at the end of the month focuses my mind wonderfully. On the downside, I have had moments to regret not being able to go back and plant or change plot-threads in the already-published episodes, and there are things I would change if I could. Fortunately they are small things, and in some ways I think the resulting completed novel may be better for the way this is shaping the plot.
Will I do it again? I honestly don’t know. At $.99 for Episode One and $1.50 for episodes 2-4, my royalties for the completed book will be about the same. And certainly having the first part of the book available for the impulse-purchase cost of $.99 is a huge advantage (I am seriously considering taking the first part of Wearing the Cape, packaging it as Wearing the Cape: Episode One, and putting it up on a couple of different Amazon categories for $.99 as an introduction to the series).
However, one problem I hadn’t even considered is the Amazon ranking system. When I post the completed novel in December, Villains Inc. will appear in its categories five times: once for the complete book, and once for each episode. If its current position is any indication, this means VI and VI:1-4 will occupy five of the Top Ten positions all by itself. Add Wearing the Cape, and more than half of Amazon’s Top Ten superhero stories would be mine, bwa ha ha ha ha!
This hardly seems fair, and so I am seriously considering speeding up my production process and releasing the complete novel at the end of October instead of Episode Three, then pulling Episode Two so that only three of my titles will be in the Top Ten: Wearing the Cape, VI:1, and Villains Inc (complete, for $2.99). Since Episode Three and Episode Four would have cost $1.50 each anyway, and my readers would get to see how it ends a month ahead of schedule, I don’t think too many would complain.
Regardless, if I release subsequent books episodically, this is a problem I have to consider. I think epublishing and Amazon.com are, for indie-writers, the greatest thing to come along (despite some problems KDP has with categories)–but we have a responsibility not to break it or ruin it for others. So, suggestions? Thoughts?
A last note for Wearing the Cape fans; once Villains Inc is completed I am not sure which direction the series will take. I have completed the first few chapters of Bite Me: New Orleans Nights, a story about Artemis. Beyond this, who knows? What would you like to see? What is your favorite thing about the stories so far, and what would you like to see more of? The suggestion box is open.