A serialized fiction growth-hacking technique for fiction writers

Most book marketing tips and strategies are for non-fiction authors. When publishing experts are asked, “well what about fiction writers,” the answer is usually, “um, I don’t have experience with that, but it should work too.”

Here’s how to sell books: build a platform and an email list.

BUT HOW?!

Usually by giving away a lot of free stuff or some free books.

BUT WHAT IF I ONLY HAVE ONE BOOK?!

Then you’re screwed.

Or maybe not.

Here’s a trick you can use.

1. Offer the first chapter for free on your website.

Make it immediately available, without any barrier or sign up required. Don’t ask them to buy or give up their privacy until they’ve had a chance to test your writing. People buy from people they know, like and trust – don’t ruin your chance for them to get to know you by asking for a sale too early.

2. At the end of the first chapter, ask them to sign up to your list to get three more chapters for free. Every week send them a new chapter with a short note explaining who you are, why you’re writing, and what you hope to accomplish.

Week one: I’m so glad you enjoyed the first chapter of my book; I’ve attached the second chapter for you. Writing has always been a dream of mine and I’m really excited to be sharing this with you. If you want to find out more about me or my background, click here to view my bio.

Week two: What did you think about the second chapter? I hope it held your interest and you’re ready for chapter three. I’m attaching it for you here. I’m giving these chapters away for free to broaden my platform and make it easier to connect with readers. If you’re liking this story so far, would you do me the favor of sharing this page with your friends who might enjoy reading it also? Here’s something you can just copy/paste to Twitter or Facebook.

“Enjoying some free chapters of (Book) by (Author Name) right now. Click here to download them. (link).”

Week three: Here’s the third chapter of (Book). I’m an indie author chasing my dream of being a writer, so I really appreciate your support and interest. (It’s really useful to reveal more about yourself, tell stories, your writing process, your personality… reveal just enough, but keep it short and charming. You need to let people see you.)

Week four: Here’s the fourth chapter of (Book) – I’m so grateful you’ve taken the time to read this far, I hope it means you are enjoying the story. If you’d like to continue reading and find out what happens next, you can get the book from Kindle for just $2.99 (link); and if you want to be a rockstar and patron of the arts please leave a quick review on the Amazon page – it just takes a minute but will mean more to me than you’ll ever know. (PS it doesn’t have to be a glowing 5 star review, just your honest feedback of what you liked and didn’t like about my writing).

I plan on writing a sequel/another book this year, and with your permissions I’ll let you know when that’s available and send you some more free chapters. Until then, if you want to know what I’m up to, you can follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

Why use this strategy?

You can sell a lot of books with very little effort if you’re already visible (if you’re already a #1 bestseller). But if that’s not you, you’re going to need as much help and support as you can get. The way to attract fans and get them to support you is to let them in.

Be human, share your dream and goal (make it very specific if you can – like “my goal is to sell 5000 books this year and I really need your help”). Don’t ask for anything except the opportunity to share your writing for free – give, give, give, then ask.

Create a relationship, and interaction, and get them involved in the story. It’s fine to giveaway 4 chapters for free and still charge for the rest of the book (it’s probably not far off from Amazon’s look inside feature anyway, but people will appreciate it and your list will grow.

Don’t make people knock. Leave the door open and let them wander in.

The big advantage with this technique is you can use it even with your first book and no platform, and it will work SO MUCH BETTER than “sign up for updates!” And your list (and sales) can be growing on autopilot while you work on another book (at least, as long as you’re bringing new traffic to your site.)

About Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a book designer with a Ph.D. in Literature. He's been featured on CNN and spoken at dozens of writing conferences around the world. These days he mostly writes young adult fantasy and science fiction, while helping authors build profitable publishing platforms. Find me

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