Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sean Platt: Yesterday's Gone serial ebook project

Sean and I have crossed paths here and there over the years, and when I found out about his serial ebook project, I had to know more. So here is Sean, in the digital flesh.

Hi Scott! Thanks for having me, it's great to be here.

1) Why a serialized fiction project?

Serialized fiction is something my writing partner David Wright and I have been interested in for a long time. In fact, we started our first serialized project more than two years ago at our website, Collective Inkwell. It was a horror novel called Available Darkness.

We published a new entry each Friday and developed a decent sized audience in a reasonably short time, but life nudged its way to the front and we both got busy with the immediate needs of life which forced us to pause the project. We resurrected it earlier this year and published it on Kindle and print this summer.

But our new project, Yesterday’s Gone, was an entirely different beast from day one!

By mid-summer, our small imprint had published five titles. Unfortunately, those five titles were in four different markets. We knew we really needed to fix this. It's difficult to hit critical mass on Kindle without multiple titles. But just because someone loves your book about vampires, doesn't mean they’re going to love your book about how to build an online writing business.

Yesterday's Gone was designed from day one to capitalize on the all-too-easy to click Kindle consumer phenomenon. This serial was a way for us to get six high quality titles to market that would keep readers at the edge of their seat, leave them wanting for more, and hopefully telling their friends about all the fun they had reading.

2) Did you choose a post-apocalyptic story because of the nature of the project, or was that always in the plans?
That's a great question!
Full credit for the premise goes to Dave. We were already discussing doing a serial, but to his way of thinking, it would be easier to get our first season to market if it was set in a world where we wouldn't end up drowning in research. With a post-apocalyptic setting, we essentially built ourselves a giant sandbox where we made all the rules.

Of course, there were still a ton of things to research and we had to make sure our dates and times all lined up, and that locations in our story matched locations on the map. This was especially difficult while doing some of the larger scenes in New York and Times Square, but was still significantly less work than it would have been if we were writing something set in the real world.

3) How does the collaboration work? Back and forth for each chapter, or write and rewrite?
Dave and I have been writing together for three years now. We met during what was the first few weeks for each of us online. Our collaboration is natural, organic, and wonderfully fluid. A project of this scope would've been impossible without it.

As far as Yesterdays Gone specifically, we started by writing the “pilot.” We decided there would be six characters and that each of us would handle the POV for three of them. Once finished, I sent my work to Dave and he pieced them all together.

For episodes 2-6, we each stuck with the characters we started with, following the same process, where I would write my three POV’s then send them to Dave for arrangement. I polished his copy and sent it back. Dave excels at structure, and I'm slightly better voice so that rhythm works really well for us.

4) How many episodes will you do, and what happens after they are finished?
There are six episodes in the first season, and right now we have at least three seasons planned, though if the audience is asking, we’ll definitely deliver more. We’re not sure six episodes is the perfect number for a season. Seems like there’s a lot to experiment with there. The next serial we have planned will have a different number of episodes and a slightly different page count for each one, almost for sure.

Dave's been getting the episodes to Kindle one at a time, but we’ve been fast-tracking the entire project since there isn't the big built-in audience that there will be for Season II. Once we’re in the second season, we’ll launch each episodes anywhere from a week to a month apart, depending on audience feedback.

5) Do you see other possibilities for invention and experimentation with form in the digital era?
Absolutely! I am thoroughly in love with where self-publishing is right now, and I think experimentation is everything. We have many, many plans, in multiple genres. And we can't wait to explore them all.

We hope you enjoy this trailer, and will share it on Facebook, Twitter and email. You can start with the pilot of Yesterday's Gone for just $.99 or get the entire season for $4.99, which is a super great deal!

If you’re a reader who likes the extra goodies (like exclusive chapters and sneak peeks), or an author who wants a behind-the-scenes look at the writing and marketing process for this project, sign up to be a “goner,” here.

Thanks for having me at the Haunted Computer, Scott. 


Charlie Pulsipher said...

Smart, really smart. I've been hearing a lot about serialization lately, but this is the first time I've seen it implemented well. Thank you.

Joel said...

Cool to see someone else trying this. I've only just started publishing my serial The Phoenix Odyssey and only have two episodes but I agree that it is great fun to be able to create these worlds and characters and then see them develop over the course of multiple episodes.

I for one will definitely be checking out Yesterday's Gone.

Thanks for the heads up on this one, Scott.


James Monaghan

Mitchell Allen said...

Scott, thanks for asking the good questions. You got quite a bit out of Sean. That collaboration seems really polished!

Sean, I'm not stalking, promise. I just see these tweets and want to make sure I don't miss any awesomeness. :)

I totally love your comment about the sandbox world - as a game designer, I've adopted that mantra, since I hate getting bogged down in details. As a storyteller, that also works for me. As long as the reader has some context, be it physical or emotional, a made-up world or universe is completely doable.

Okay, where to next. LOL



Merrill Heath said...

Thanks for posting this, Scott. I'll be watching the progress of Sean's serial closely. I have an idea for two serial novels - very similar format, publish individually as ebooks (every other month) and as an anthology at year's end. Each story will have a stand-alone main plot but there will be a couple of subplots that will run through all the stories. Each "episode" will be about 50 pages.

I'm also considering a shorter, weekly serial that would be comprised of 16 "episodes" of approximately 30 pages.

One questions - how long are each of your episodes?

Merrill Heath
Alec Stover Mysteries

Sean said...

@Charlie - thanks! I know this idea feels like home for sure.

@Joel - thanks to you, too, and awesome on your own serial! It's a really fun way to write.

@Mitchell - ha, great to see you! No, I don't feel stalked, I actually feel bad because I'm probably repeating myself too much. :)

@Merril - each of our episodes is 100 pages, give or take. Some run slightly long and some are slightly shorter. But that's our aim.

Merrill Heath said...

Thanks, Sean. As soon as I finish my current project I'll start reading this series. Sounds fun.


author Scott Nicholson said...

Charlie, Joel, Mitchell, Merrill, thank you for dropping by! Sean, thanks for sharing your cool project.

Jon Olson said...

A series that wants to be TV. Not a bad idea.

Jon Olson
The Ride Home

Jay Noel said...

Very cool. Reminds me of the old radio shows like The Shadow. But the ebook version.