In the old days, many authors would generate interest in their books by publishing book chapters as part of a serial. A magazine might print an entire novel issue by issue until readers got the whole book. While giving away an entire book might seem foolhardy, it helps drum up interest and create positive word of mouth marketing from satisfied readers.
That’s why authors Jason Hiner and Lyndsey Gilpin have chosen this serial publishing route for their book “Follow the Geeks,” a book about entrepreneurs. Instead of publishing each chapter in a magazine, they’re publishing each chapter on the Internet. By the time people read the entire book, they’ll be able to buy it as a completed e-book, print book, or audio book.
In response to the question of why use digital publishing in a serial format, Jason Hiner says, “There are several reasons, it’s to create community, get the information out there quicker and take advantage of the insight of the audience. It typically takes an author a year to write a book and it takes another year to get it in the hands of people. In that period a lot can happen, the world changes. One of the ideas with serial publishing is to get the information out there as quickly as possible — get it in the hands of readers and get their feedback.”
What happens if you publish a book and nobody knows about it? Chances are good nobody will buy it. You might get lucky and sell one copy every year or two, but if you serialize it, more people will read it and more people will know about it. That can translate into more people buying it. Sometimes you have to give something away for free first before you can sell anything.
if you’re thinking about self-publishing a book, consider serializing it on your blog or web site first to drum up interest. Even though you’ll be giving your book’s contents away for free, you’ll likely attract far more buyers than if you never advertised the existence of your book at all.