Monday, 6 October 2014

Learning from the pros - How to release a series

When you self-publish, you suddenly have to learn all kinds of things. And one of them is release timing, something I'm going to try and pay better attention to in Year 2. (As opposed to my Year 1 approach - which was basically: Write. Edit. Release. Repeat.) Year 2, I'm going to do things like plan. And market.

Which brings me to Ella Jade. I mentioned recently that I very much enjoyed Red and Wolfe. I devoured the whole series. I read Part 4 at 3.00 in the morning. But that's Tara, the reader talking.

However, what was just as interesting to me as a self-published author was the timing of the various releases. So I did a bit of research into the release timing of Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, the timing of Beast, the next series and the timing of the upcoming Hansel.

Here goes:

FREE - Red & Wolfe Part 1. Publication date May 9. 52 pages
$0.99 Red & Wolfe Part 2. Publication date May 22. 65 pages.
$2.99 Red & Wolfe Part 3. Publication date June 19. 55 pages.
$2.99 Red & Wolfe Part 4. Publication date July 24. 112 pages. Preorder link available for Beast.

FREE - Beast Part 1. Publication date Aug 18. 65 pages.
$0.99 - Beast Part 2. Publication date Aug 24. 58 pages.
$2.99 - Beast Part 3. Publication date Sept 7. 58 pages
$2.99 - Beast Part 4. Publication date Sept 22. 85 pages. Preorder link available for Hansel. 

Hansel. Publication date Oct 22. 

What's amazing about this is that this is a template. It's a gift really, because Ella James seems to own the BDSM top lists right now, and I want to know if there's a formula. (I'm not attempting to compare or equate writing - I think she's an amazing writer. This is a release formula analysis, nothing else.) 

So here it is. How to write a properly released 4 part serial, and set the stage for the next one. 

Day 1-10: Outline entire series. Get your key plot details down, your story elements, everything you need in order to write. You'll need to do this - you won't have time to rescue yourself. I'll call this about 10 days of work. 
Day 11-20:  Write Part 1. ~14,000 - ~16,000 words. I try to write 2,000 words a day, so I'll call that 10 days of work, giving it a bit slack.
Day 21-30: Write Part 2. Same length. Another 10 days. 
Day 30: Publish Part 1. Set pre-order link set up for second part, set to release anywhere between 1-3 weeks*. 
Day 31-51: Write Part 3 and half of part 4 (Note: You have 3 weeks to get the first draft of Part 3 done. But it's the same length as parts 1 and 2. Should only take 10 days. With the extra 10 days, start writing Part 4, and get about half-way through part 4) 
Day 52: Publish Part 2. Set pre-order link set up for third part, set to release 4* weeks from this point.
Day 52-79. Finish writing Part 4. 10 days of work. Outline next novel. 
Day 79: Publish Part 3. Set pre-order link set up for fourth part, set to release 5* weeks from this point. 
Day 79-114: Write second story. 
Day 114: Publish Part 4. Set pre-order link for next series. Rinse. Repeat.

In contrast, I wrote Triage. I published it. I wrote Observation. I took a break and wrote another book (Professor's Pet.) Then I came back to Diagnosis. I wrote some books about aliens. Then back to Relapse, and Recovery.

As always, it's worth mentioning that this is a business. The professionals take it seriously. Point noted, Ms. Jade - I'm off to outline my next series now. 

Also worth noting - some patience is useful to build momentum. All I have to do is sit on my first book for about 10 days to work on the second part. That's it. Then the production calendar takes over. But the combination of FREE+0.99 *should* push enough people to pre-order the next book, and so on and so forth. 

*Worth mentioning - Ms. Jade had a 3 week gap between parts 1 and 2 for Red and Wolfe; a 1-week gap between parts 1 and 2 for Beast. I'm going to take it that in her experience, a 1-week gap is better than a 3-week gap, but that could have also been capitalizing on the the momentum she built from Red and Wolfe. Nonetheless, if you look at release dates, she's closed the gap a lot between parts 1 and 4.


  1. Very interesting data, Tara. Thanks for pulling it together!

  2. Useful information indeed. I'll be filing it away in my memory banks for future use. :)