Tape 5 - I made my short story available for free

Here's why

Keith discusses two strategies internet novelists can use to get more reads.

Read the draft of “Sync Whole” here.

Rethinking the Book in the Internet Age

The Struggle to Be Read

As an author in today's digital era, one of the greatest challenges I've faced is simply getting my work read. Like many other writers, especially those focused on novels and books, I've come to the realization that books are perhaps one of the worst products in the internet age.

The Challenges of Book Production and Distribution

Books take significant time to write, often a month at minimum for even the fastest authors. They also require a substantial time investment from readers, who may spend anywhere from a day to several months consuming a book, depending on their reading speed and habits. Distributing books, whether in physical or digital form, comes with its own set of obstacles. Print copies must be manufactured, shipped, and placed into readers' hands, while even ebooks face challenges in an era of information overload.

Experimenting with Podcasts

Having written and published several books myself over the past few years, I've repeatedly encountered these friction points. My first attempt to overcome them was through creating a podcast version of my nearly 500-page, 150,000-word novel. While this did succeed in making the story more accessible, the three-year production process, involving music, voice acting, sound effects, and editing, was a massive undertaking that I'm unlikely to repeat, especially considering I was learning the necessary skills as I went.

The Shifting Landscape of Information Consumption

This brings me to my current experimental approach. The standard model for authors has long been to write a book, then sell it as a complete product on platforms like Amazon, personal websites, or Gumroad. However, I've noticed that in recent years, people have become increasingly reluctant to pay for information upfront. The rise of AI has exacerbated this issue, as users can now easily generate solutions and examples tailored to their specific needs.

The Abundance of Free Content

For storytellers, this presents a significant problem. With the abundance of free content available on platforms like YouTube, which hosts billions of stories ranging from personal anecdotes to wild fiction, convincing readers to pay for a novel has become a daunting task. While people may still pay for big-budget movies or live shows, the decreasing cost of production, especially with the aid of AI, has made it harder to persuade readers to invest in a book.

Experiment 1: Free Access to Build Readership

In light of these challenges, I'm currently conducting two experiments with my fiction. First, I'm posting the entire draft of my short story, "Sync Whole," on my website for free. Rather than focusing on immediate financial gain, my primary goal at this stage is to attract readers and familiarize them with my writing style, characters, and stories. By making my work accessible without a paywall, I hope to build a base of regular fiction readers who will return for more.

Experiment 2: Providing Upfront Content Warnings and Audience Information

The second experiment involves providing content warnings and intended audience information upfront, similar to the ratings and warnings found on video games and movies. By giving readers a clear idea of what to expect in terms of content, themes, and target audience, I aim to help them quickly determine whether the story is worth their time and attention. In an age of constant distractions and limited time, I believe it's crucial for creators to respect their audience's time and provide the information needed to make informed decisions about the content they consume.

Looking Ahead

As I continue to refine and implement these strategies, I'm eager to see how they resonate with readers and fellow writers. In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, embracing new approaches and prioritizing reader engagement may be the key to success for authors seeking to connect with their audience and build a dedicated following.

Get previews of original stories and tutorials to write, create, and profit from original stories

No spam, no sharing to third party. Only you and me.

Member discussion