The first product I am working on for next year is the idea of selling ‘tickets’ to serialized novels and short stories.
Serial stories look to be a great way to keep folks coming back to the website on a regular basis. As long as there is a free reading option, I think that an audience could be built over time that would be willing to throw a few bucks my way.
But first I have to convince the world that my stories are good enough to spend money on!
So working from the ‘free is always better’ option, I want a way for readers to follow a story from beginning to end without spending a dime.
Subscriptions vs Sales vs Hulu
With a traditional book/e-book purchase, you pay before you play. You might get a peak at the first chapter or two online, but you have to base your purchase off the book reviews and if you’re familiar with the author.
With a subscription/magazine model, you have the same problem. You end up paying for content that you aren’t sure you’ll like. With magazines you are actually paying for the editors opinion, rather than based off of reviews or personal preference.
The Hulu/Hulu Plus approach is the one I think I’m going to model myself after. Content is free, as long as you keep up, and access to old episodes is where the money comes into play.
The first three or four posts of a serial story would always be free and open to everyone. This should be enough material that new readers could decide if they liked the story enough to buy admission to the locked posts.
Then, like Hulu, the most recent posts would also be unlocked. I think four weeks is probably a long enough window to make sure that readers can keep up, but I may narrow it depending on what the traffic looks like. (If traffic to the four week-old posts drops dramatically, I might reduce it to three).
This will end up with a bit of an odd gap for the first few months, since only a handful weeks would be in the locked status. I am figuring most of my readership will be gained in the first seven weeks, or once the story has been completed. It will be fun watching the numbers to see if this is the case.
Now to just work out the pricing…