Serialising Novels on Substack by Sharon Thompson

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Author Sharon Thompson wearing a black top and smiling into the camera

Sharon Thompson

Serialising Novels on Substack: A New Way to Publish Independently

I’ve taken the head-staggers. For a while now, I’ve been toying with the idea of serialising fiction myself. I’ve always thought that building up a readership could be done this way. Here is the outcome – The Donegal Gold

Is this a bad idea?

  1. It’s not as prestigious as bookshops, paperbacks, and traditional publishing.
  2. People might not like waiting or episodes and refuse to pay.
  3. There will possibly be a way for people to pirate my books.

Then, I sat back and thought about this for all of a few minutes. All the cons are present with ordinary publishing. It’s damn nigh impossible to get paperback deals, bookshops are the holy grail, and my published books are pirated.

What if this actually works?

  1. I’ll get readers….
  2. While getting paid something…
  3. and have control of my content and purchasers list.

If people don’t have a Kindle they will have my Substack website as a reading base. I might find those who are not normally purchasers of ebooks.

  • There is no faffing with waiting on paperbacks to become available.
  • I’ll be starting another form of publishing for myself.
  • I’ll have direct contact with my own readership.
  • I’m not begging for reviews (yet).
  • I can schedule my work to be released for a whole year in advance.
  • If it works I can add more and more titles to my Substack serialised fiction.
  • There are many award-winning, best-selling authors already using the platform.

The Donegal GoldWhere is this publication?

It’s called Penny Best. The Donegal Gold. Title One.

What do readers get?

At least 3 FREE episodes and then 3 delivered every week for the next year until you have 3 full novels from May 2023 – May 2024. A monthly subscription is €5. Yearly subscription is just €50.

Each week, on Sundays, three new episodes of the latest publication will arrive in your Inbox. Also, all previous episodes will be available to read no matter when you join. You will always have access to all published episodes, you can get advance reads of unpublished episodes, and newly published episodes will be sent directly to you every week.

I made this video for non-substack users.

Why did I jump at this idea?

I’m an experienced serialised fiction writer. (If you’re reading this in the USA, I mean serialized fiction.) I’m already an avid writer on a hot-romance American site called Radish. I write under the pen name Penny Best and I absolutely adore writing on this platform. If you like hot romance check it out… many of the episodes are free.

How did that happen?

I submitted the title, The Queen of All. Once they accepted me as an author, I can add as many titles as I like to their platform.

  • I have access to my own publishing machine/app and I add my work myself.
  • I can schedule and control the release of my own work, and get paid (teeny teeny amount) for each paid read.
  • There are at least 5 free reads/chapters on each title and depending on the promotions I apply for, or the way readers take to my work, I can notch up a good number of views or reads. (Some writers have millions of views)
  • I’d recommend having an edited novel-length work (or series) ready to place up and release quickly on their wait-to-unlock payment schedule.
  • You’ll also need a strong graphic (no font title), keywords, tropes, sh*t-hot descriptions, log lines, etc. Applying for their promotions is also the best way of being seen.
  • I can see the number of reads, reply to comments on my work, connect with readers, and see the payments I’m due at the click of a mouse.

My ten advantages of serialized fiction are:

  1. I use the platform to sound out interest in my work. Do readers like the characters etc? Does the plot have potential as a series? Readers will stop reading or will leave feedback. (Daunting enough but also helpful).
  2. You can edit your work after it is published if you ask for access to the published episodes.
  3. It’s confidence-boosting to see reads and views stack up and usually readers leave nice or helpful comments.
  4. There is a small payment each month from the paid reads.
  5. Radish has a huge variety of authors. Mingling and learning from other writers shows best practices and what works.
  6. I control my writing. I publish it when I like, how I like.
  7. Radish will remove titles from your live feed if you want to publish them in other forms.
  8. Radish does its own internal promotion for me. Although I promote my titles, the most interest comes from what Radish does. (Nice, eh?)
  9. Radish is getting bigger but their team is communicative, kind, and helpful.
  10. It’s fun and has access to millions of readers! Radish titles of mine are here.

Why use Substack and Radish?

I want to have the option of different heat levels of romance and/or different genres. (Radish readers tend to like Hot Romance.)

Where can you find the first of my historical novels on Substack?

The Donegal Gold by Penny Best. One hundred years apart, two women become perilously obsessed with sunken treasure.

@Sharon Thompson/Penny Best

About The Donegal Gold:

The Donegal GoldThis fiction novel is inspired by true events.

One of the most famous wrecks off the Donegal coast is the Laurentic. Two German mines sank this converted troopship in January 1917. Her crew successfully abandoned the ship, but three hundred and fifty-four pour souls died of hypothermia in her lifeboats. The Laurentic was carrying about forty-three tons of gold bars when she sank. This was en route to Canada to buy ammunition and guns. Most of the three thousand two hundred and eleven bars were salvaged by 1924… but accounts vary about what gold is still missing…

Read the first three chapters and subscribe here.

About the author

Sharon Thompson is an Irish writer who herds fellow creatives into supportive spaces.

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