Writing Free eSerials:

A Gift for You and
Your Readers


 © Judy Bagshaw - All Rights Reserved 


Romance writers in general have a dual agenda; primarily they can’t not write. But secondarily, most hope to make some money from their writing. And in order to fulfill this secondary agenda, they must attract readers, and keep attracting them. 

I have addressed some methods for accomplishing this end in my May ‘07 article,  Free and Inexpensive Ways to Market Yourself,  and June ‘07,  More Free and Inexpensive Ways…, as well as September ‘07’s article, Blurbs, Taglines, Teasers and Ads, and November’s  Creating a Writer's Press Kit. Also read Jeremy Hoover’s article, How to Get More Readers For Your Books. 

Recently, I personally ventured into a new area of endeavor, writing a free eserial for my readers, both as a means to draw new visitors to my site, but also as a gift to my existing readership. A couple of writer friends of mine, Skyla Dawn Cameron (urban fantasy) and Elaine Corvidae (sci-fi and dark fantasy) have provided free stories for their fans for the past few years. I read them, studied them and came to the conclusion that I could do this too. 

I made a couple of false starts in the beginning as I floundered about trying to find the right story and the right format, and then it hit me. A soap opera! Romance, intrigue, endless plot twists and turns. Desperate Hearts was born. I launched on Valentine’s Day ’08 and am really enjoying the journey. 

For those unfamiliar with the eserial, it is simply a story told in a serialized format (think of the tv shows 24, Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and posted on your website. Chapters (generally between 3K-6K words) are posted on a regular schedule (mine appear the first of the month). There is a long, noble history of serialized fiction in print (Dickens, for example). This is just taking it into the cyber age. 

Now the question you may be asking is, "Why should I work this hard on something if I’m not going to make money? After all, my secondary agenda is to make money." Consider the eserial a gift for your loyal fans, and a taste of your writing for potential fans. Go into it with the idea that you’re writing this for fun and do just that. Look at it as a clever marketing ploy, because it is. 

"So why," you might also ask yourself, "would fans buy the cow if they can get the milk for free?" The answer is ridiculously simple. They just do. Readers, particularly romance readers, are loyal. If they find a writer they like, they will read anything they write, purchase their books and keep coming back for new releases. Since we writers are not machines, there may be times when there is a lull between our last book and our next one. Having an eserial keeps the fans coming to your site each month and gives you a chance to promote your backlist and your upcoming releases. 

There is a lovely freedom to writing an eserial. After all, it is not intended for "formal" publication, therefore there are not editors involved, or waits for release dates. You have total control of the story, its presentation, its release, and its fate. That takes the pressure off and makes the writing great fun.  

An eserial also gives your fans an opportunity to get involved with you as a writer. I have a forum where my readers can come and discuss the latest episode of the eserial. I give them permission to post fanfic and fanart. I run little contests for them from time to time. They have input sometimes on potential plot twists. And I’m honest with my fans. Most eserials are presented as first drafts, since I don’t want to put valuable time into finite editing. Let your readers help in this regard by pointing out errors they may find. 

Here are some basic points to keep in mind when starting your eserial:

  • Make a schedule and stick to it.

  • Start small until you gain confidence.

  • Be flexible. Sometimes your characters have ideas of their own.

  • Write a few chapters ahead so you’re not scrambling each month.

  • Be considerate. Offer your eserial chapters in PDF as well as on your site as some readers might like to print it out for reading.

  • Reread your eserial from time to time to refresh your memory and catch plot points you may have missed.

Now another concern you might have is with copyright. What’s to stop someone from stealing your story and publishing it under their name? Well, you can visit the website www.creativecommons.org . There are several different kinds of intellectual property licenses available and you choose the license which suits you and your purposes best. And best of all, it’s a free service! 

A free eserial is just another tool in your writer’s toolkit, one that will bring both you and your readers much enjoyment. It truly is a gift for both of you. 

More information on producing eserials can be found in the Marketing Whore’s newest guide, Building A Fanbase:eSerial Edition.


You can read Desperate Hearts at www.desperatehearts.homestead.com  - I hope you do! 


About the Author: Judy Bagshaw has been published since 2000. Writing romance featuring full-figured heroines, her publishing credits include several novels, a collection of short stories, and short stories in multiple anthologies. She was also part of the writing team for the Ginn Reading Series, and Reaching Readers Series, used in many elementary schools. Retired from teaching, she writes full-time from her home in Ontario, Canada. Visit Judy's website www.judybagshaw.com




Easy Way to Write Romance - by Rob Parnell