A few days ago I got this question from an anonymous reader:
I was considering publishing a novel that I am working on serially, much as you have done. Do you have any suggestions? If I might be crass, is it possible to make any sort of money from it?
It’s a question I haven’t seen answered…on my website. So here’s my sense of the whole serial publishing thing.
Short answer: I didn’t make any money from it. Like maybe $20 in five years. And it was a lot of work that I could have spent on writing.
However, publishing the Kingdoms of Evil serially did have some benefits. It taught me a little about building an audience, networking, and advertising, which any author of any kind needs. The KoE website also got me some good commenters, some of whom beta-read my subsequent books and even appeared as guests on my podcast or joined me in collaborative projects. Finally, the website helped me get an agent. I included the link in the pitch letter for my second book (The World’s Other Side) and the agent (Jennie Goloboy) read both that and KoE. Although she didn’t think she could sell either 🙂 she asked to see my third book (Tyrannosaur Queen), which she is currently working on selling to publishers. I know not all agents care about your old projects on your webpage, but in this case, having KoE online helped convince Jennie that I can write good stories.
There is one final bit of good that posting KoE online did for me. KoE was my first novel, and it was hard to let go (I worked on the damn thing for almost four years). Putting it online and getting some “good job!” comments from strangers helped me to convince myself that I was done with the project. That allowed me to focus on writing new books, which I think is the best way to increase your chances of getting noticed.