I love all the bonus extra behind-the-scenes stuff surrounding my favorite stories. I may have watched every YouTube video ever made describing every aspect of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings from both the book and movie perspectives. He wrote letters to those who questioned him about his world and more expansive details than what appear in the stories exists directly from the author. I can only imagine how amazing his podcast would have been if the technology had existed.
I would love to share that kind of stuff with my readers, but it's nearly impossible to write a book and include all the cool stuff. Links, pictures, and embedded videos make the files too large. Let's face it. I can't afford the postage to send handwritten letters either, but it sounds cool.
I found another way using the technology available to me. After I took the stories down from the retailers to edit, revise, create new covers, and sort the stories into miniseries, I realized it would be easy after I completed a chapter to release it to my readers. I had created the AI audio in my efforts with editing, and I'm always looking at ways to use aspects of the story creation in marketing. Unsurprisingly, I also already had videos crafted for the story descriptions, character introductions, and excerpts. I began looking for a way to combine all these extra bits and offer them to readers along with the stories.
Attempts to Solve My Problem
Creating a serial isn't as easy as the idea implies. I tried a few avenues. Once I published a novella on my blog. It was an interesting experiment, and I may still do more of that, but I also need to make some money from my writing. So I needed to monetize the chapters.
I have stories available on Radish, and I've experimented with other serial reading websites. Radish has been by far the best, but most of the others would require far more marketing capital to make them viable, and y'all know money isn't something I have simply lying around.
So I investigated Payhip further and came across paywall posts. I tried it, but it lacked the level of organization I needed. When I reached out to the help desk, they suggested adapting a course into a serial. I was on to something.
My Eureka Solution
Y'all, my pesky day job is teaching social studies to high school students. Building courses is what I have done for over fifteen years. Obviously, the format I normally use includes online testing and things no serial fiction miniseries needs, but a more basic module based concept was the perfect solution. I paused my editing and started building a miniseries.
I built out the course for the first miniseries, which were stories already published. So it galloped. Already edited, most of the chapters had AI audio. I'd already created videos and character descriptions. I had even splurged and had character anime style art created. Adding those extras seemed like a good idea. Once I had it ready, I liked it so much; I started building more. These new ones aren't complete. I'm posting to them as I edit and revise more stories.
Should Other Authors Create Miniseries?
This is a tricky situation. No one wants to hear "I don't know." But it's the best answer. I mean, not everyone has my unique background. Building a course isn't difficult, but it takes time. Not everyone will use my insane editing methods or create all the extra stuff I seem to produce while working on a story. Also, I have posted the miniseries for sale, but I always sell more ebooks and paperbacks.
I only recently stumbled over building my newsletter and lack an enormous following. My reach on social media is limited because I don't reveal my true face or name to protect my professional career. Maybe I don't spend enough money on advertising. That list keeps going, right? There are many factors which might make the concept either more or less appealing.
What Authors Should Consider
One must consider a few things:
- Other sites provide a place to post serial fiction, and they're easy to use with built in traffic. Some even offer AI audio or serial audio chapters. I don't know of any site where you can include art or video.
- I don't know of a service which delivers courses turned into fiction miniseries the way BookFunnel handles delivering ebooks. Although there may be a workaround, I doubt it would be as easy as building a simple course.
- The course framework from Payhip may not be the best fit for everyone, so you'd need to research your sales platform. (Even if I love it.) I lack knowledge about the feasibility of using other sales platforms or courses.
- Consider whether it fits what you're already doing. If it's extra work, maybe it would be something you tested out on a small scale with your readers to see if it was worth that work. Or it could be something that doesn't fit with your model, and you decide against it the same as you would decide for and against any creative idea.
In the end, whether to try new creative ventures is a decision like many others made by independent authors. It is as personal as the art they create.
Why Do I do It?
I wanted a way to go beyond the written story to give readers more. I've long toyed with or been enchanted by ideas such as branded merchandise, graphic novels, or animated short films concerning my stories. Recently, I became enamored with the concept of audio dramas. I'm more of a storyteller than I am merely an author.
Some of these things are outside my current ability, but the creative in me still wonders about them. Who knows where the technology will take me/us in the future? When I first began writing in the dream, AI audiobooks were basically unknown. Since I began publishing in 2018, they have exploded onto the scene, and I even have my own.
Sure, I post videos and snippet cards on social media, but I want to gather all the pieces into one place. I want to offer it all to the curious reader who, like myself, desires more when the last page turns. No single social media platform was enough to gather it all. This way, the courses are mine, sold on my site, and I can add stuff whenever I create more. A one time purchase could entertain readers for a much longer time. Creating the miniseries allowed me to craft a home for all those bonus bits and pieces, and gives me an outlet to revisit older stories and create fresh content.
It feels right to have a place to gather all the creative parts which make up the bonus aspects of the stories set in the dream. Now, all those wonderful extra goodies have a home. My stories can live long after the book ends and far beyond the last page, even if I never get a television or silver screen option offer. (After you laugh as loud as I did when I wrote that, know for sure that I can dream.)
I recently updated the Kingdom Rising Miniseries. The books are all published. The boxed set is available. But I can revisit. The enchantment of the dream still lives. There are now 9 bonus episodes, including exclusive explanations, research, videos, art, a lexicon, charts, and sneak peeks at other aspects of the dream. This is beyond the character introductions, story descriptions, and saga definitions with art, AI audio, and video, which I've crafted for each story.
These are a creative digital version of letters to my readers. I'm not in the same league as Tolkien, but if imitation is the highest form of flattery, I have tried mightily to learn the lessons from a master storyteller and imitate them in my time.
I'm currently creating bonus episodes for Royal Council and Apocalypse Denied as well. So if you're interested in the stories with all the extras, please check them out. Feedback is always welcome. I can't decide for others what they should do, but I've decided. Publishing the stories as miniseries works for me.
What About the Money?
Don't let the image above fool you. It's part of the dream, not necessarily the reality. Because I promised to be honest with my author journey, I earn more from ebooks than my AI audiobooks, paperbacks, hard covers, and my serials combined. While I have occasionally earned enough to pay a bill, I've never earned more than gas money each month on average. My books have yet to earn what I've spent on cover art, software, and services.
I just don't want to ignore an opportunity when it isn't more work for me. I have already created most of the base content. The stories are already written, the chapter audio already created, and the edited text already exists. I produced the video content as teasers or as YouTube channel content. Building course modules is something this old school teacher could do in her sleep.
I priced the miniseries the same as my ebook boxed sets. The miniseries are far better with all the extras and potential for updates and the ability to read as I go, but you can't download them or read on an airplane or on retreat with no internet connection. So their limitations make them seem commiserate with a quality formatted boxed set in my mind. It's still cheaper than what you would pay for the entire miniseries on any other serial site.
If you read this far, I hope I didn't bore you with the details. I gotta get back to work. When you read, please leave your reviews. Have a great weekend.
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