Monthly Archives: September 2015

How To Write Serials: Strategy

How to Write Serials

When it comes to strategy with romance serials it’s all about the numbers.

Who is your target audience, how hot are you writing, what do you want to charge, and how many words are you willing to invest into your cause? The kinkier you write, the less words you have to write, and the higher you can charge (because erotica is considered a high demand genre with a thirst for very specific content.) 

But the hotter you write, the more you run into advertising and visibility issues because many places will not promote explicit content. If you’re like me, you write very hot and use certain four-letter words. So be conscious of what you’re writing and what opportunities that will afford you (and which doors that will close.) 

Tease Web Banner

In general, 15k words for $0.99 is a sweet spot. When you write shorter, readers b*tch about paying for your words (unless they are super hot addictive words. For instance, straight up erotica can go as short as 4k words as long as it’s kinky.) If you write too much longer than 15k words then you aren’t maximizing your cost/word ratio (unless you are charging 2.99.) While we all love to write, we also love to put food on our tables. Don’t spend a lot of time writing words you can’t charge for. The point is to put out a fun, exciting, sexy product, but to also maximize your earning potential.

Keep your first episode on the shorter end. It is your hook episode and the one you’ll want to make permafree (depending on sales strategy). With Tease I made each episode a couple thousand words longer hoping to unconsciously make readers feel more and more satisfied, and giving me the option to charge more for later editions. Readers definitely felt satisfied, but I found that I was reluctant to charge more for later editions, which made my extra work kind of pointless. And by extra effort, it was almost doubling my turnaround time by episode 5.

By the way, I *always* look like Jessica Alba in the bedroom. Always.

By the way, I *always* look like Jessica Alba in the bedroom. Always.

And when you think about it, going back to the TV strategy, every episode is the same length except for season finales or specials. So I now try to keep each episode in the 15-18k word range. Five episodes is a good format for two reasons: 1…it winds up being approximately the same length as a full novel which gives you more strategy options down the road. And 2…when you bundle them up at the end, it gives you the ability to charge a reasonable amount for your work. 

What do I mean by that? Well, if you write a three book serial and the first book is free, but you’re only charging $0.99 for each of the next two books then your entire series can be bought for $1.98. That doesn’t give you much power to price the box set at different levels unless you start playing around with prices.

Which brings us to pricing! Stop back for my next post where I’ll talk about pricing strategies and why they work. If you haven’t, please be sure to read my first post on How to Write Serials: Format. In that post I discuss the basics of the serial format and how to plan out your writing strategy. 


Have you checked out my latest serial? Tempt was just the featured excerpt of the week over at Cosmopolitan.com!

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It was amazing timing because you can read Tempt: Volume 1 for free from any retailer!

Amazon – Nook – iBooks – Kobo

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Tempt 3 is LIVE & Tempt 1 is FREE!

Volume 3

Tempt: Volume 3 is here! AND Tempt: Volume 1 is now FREE on all platforms!

And you know what else? I am so in love with this series! Things have gotten hot and intense in Tempt 3 and it only gets hotter and intenser (yes, I’m stretching the limits of English right now, go with it!) in Tempt 4 (which is coming very soon!) Scroll down for the information you need and THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart! xoxo

Blurb:

Fight or flight, the most basic human response. A moment where you have to decide whether to risk everything or run away. Once you choose, there’s no going back.

I never guessed the problems that followed Theo Sutherland could be so dark. It was almost impossible to believe that the quiet billionaire was actually a criminal. And not just any criminal, but a brilliant thief-turned-traitor with a bounty on his head.

Being with Theo was dangerous for both my heart and my safety. But together…oh, together we were magic. Passion and emotion that exploded in the most intense pleasure I’d ever known. Theo knew me without knowing anything about me. It was as if he filled up the parts of me that never felt quite whole.
How could I walk away from that? People went their whole lives without ever feeling what we’d built in a few short months. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to choose when the time came, and the time was coming fast. The past was ready for revenge and the only question was whether it took me down with it.

Get it now!

Amazon – Nook – iBooks – Kobo

Tempt 3 LIVE

Tempt: Volume 1 is now FREE everywhere! Find out what Tempt is all about!

One heartbeat.

That’s all that separates us from the life we’ve known and everything that could change it.

One kiss.

Was all it took to change mine.

Theo was rich and handsome, brilliant and powerful, but he wasn’t a hero or a prince charming. And let’s be honest, I wasn’t exactly a damsel in distress. I wanted Theo, so I took him. Hard and passionately without any regard for the consequences.

At first it was just sex. Wild sex. Fantastic sex. But once wasn’t enough and I got greedy. In all fairness, so did he. One thing led to another and before either of us knew what was happening our lives were tangled up and messy. Inextricably linked. I’d fallen in love with a stranger.

And that was the problem.

Theo Sutherland was a man with a dark past and a price on his head. My life was at stake just for being with him.

One kiss was all it took to make me believe in love.

One heartbeat was all it took to turn him into the hero he never thought he’d be.

Start reading now for free!

Amazon – Nook – iBooks – Kobo

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Get It Together Blog Hop (aka Managing Choke Points)

Get It Together Blog Hop Banner

Hello everyone! I’m so happy to be posting this as part of the Get It Together Blog Hop. I’m Alexis Anne and I write contemporary and erotic romances like The Storm Inside and Tease! Like many of you, my life is one of barely controlled chaos structured around schedules and lists, fueled by caffeine and determination, and laced with insanity. I’m a mother to two active soccer-playing boys, wife to a busy soccer-playing engineer, and am attempting to launch three new series in three different genres this year. Oh, and I also contribute to the First Draught Writing show and podcast (They put me in charge of podcasts!).

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So, just like all of you, I’m busy as f**** and the one thing I do that keeps things somewhat balanced and moving forward is the careful management of my choke points (aka bottlenecks), a family Google Calendar (see Lindsay Emory’s post), white boards, and more notebooks than any one person should own.

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These are ALL notebooks I actually use.

No seriously. They’re everywhere. Including my nightstand and… apparently… my drying rack, stored carefully under my hat?

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I write things down, but I don’t own a planner.

I like having goals I’m working toward, but on my own time. Writing is such a creative process that I’ve found things like to do lists, word counts, and tracking to be counterproductive to my life. Instead of focusing on my story, I’m tracking progress. Instead of creating, I’m worrying… and worrying means I’m not working.

So I write everything down. It gets it out of my head and I can reference back to it any time (without the pressure of a to do list staring me down.) As crazy as my stacks of notebooks look, it’s actually controlled chaos.

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Instead, I spend enormous amounts of time finding creative ways around my choke points and bottlenecks. This often involves looking at the situation from a new angle and figuring out how to get around it.

What is a choke point? Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition:

a strategic narrow route providing passage through or to another region

Or bottleneck:

something that slows down a process

Maybe I’m a problem solver by nature, but my mind doesn’t go to “what is my process” so much as “how can I make my process more efficient?” I do this by identifying my choke points and eliminating them. Like Michael Cena.

choke

Worry is a major choke point for me, which is why I like to wake up and start writing over coffee. Whether it’s a list of scenes that need to appear in the next book in my serial (explain Theo’s tattoo, establish Allison’s back story, explain Nicki’s connection to Higgins, sex scene A, sex scene B, dark moment) or writing a scene that came to me in the morning fog of sleep, that is probably my most creative time of day, so I prioritize it. If I don’t get my morning quiet time, I become a basket case and all the dominoes in my house fall down.

So I make sure everyone in my house knows this time is sacred. The kids don’t talk to me until my cup is empty (I also wake up extra early so that I have maximum time before they wake up.)

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The hubby kisses me goodbye and doesn’t take offense if I’m deep in thought instead of gushing over him 😉 And I keep a notebook on my nightstand. I write by hand as often, or more, in this morning time.

White board of my madness.

White board of my madness.

Another choke point is spending unnecessary time fretting over scenes and writing order (I’m a plotter BTW.) I usually write in order, but lately I’ve been writing critical scenes first, then filling in the others second. I prefer to write in Word, but if I need to, I import into Scrivener and use all of it’s wonderful tools to break up scenes, rearrange chapters, and keep my pre-plotted story arc in check. There’s no shame in using multiple products to get to one finished product and I’ve found that moving back and forth between the platforms is both easy and effective for producing a good product.

All the scenes I had to break up and rearrange in Tempt 2

All the scenes I had to break up and rearrange in Tempt 2 (as you can tell… this is an erom…)

My family is probably my biggest problem. I love them to pieces… and that’s exactly my problem. I can’t think (which means I can’t create) if I know we’re two weeks behind on laundry, there is no food in the fridge, and every dish we own is dirty and sitting on the counter waiting for the maid (that we don’t have) to come take care of it all.

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We had to find a way to be more efficient and effective as a family. That’s where minimalism and Amazon come in. We got rid of all the things we didn’t need. We realized we had so many things. Things that were dragging us down with extra chores, clutter, and immense feelings of guilt. So we got rid of the extra dishes, clothes, and stuff. This article was a great guide for us.

My other family choke point was the dang groceries. To keep writing we turned to eating out instead of cooking/cleaning (on top of homework and soccer practice.) Eating out is a temporary solution, not a lifestyle. It’s expensive, too. So the guilt started to get to me.

Amazon Pantry Box

Amazon Pantry Box

Until I realized Amazon and One Pot Meals were the answer to my overworked writer-mom prayers. Between two day Prime shipping and the Prime Pantry Box, my life has been transformed. Laundry detergent arrives by magic. So do craft supplies for the school projects. All my dry goods arrive in the Pantry Box (pasta, chicken stock, canned food, cereal, toilet paper, etc), which frees us up to actually make a run to the grocery store since we now only need to run around the edges for fresh food (bread, produce, dairy, etc.)

You can check out my go-to one pot (or two pot) meals here. They’ve saved me a ton of time while getting us some decently balanced meals.

Motivation Board

Motivation Board

All of this makes my creative time as a writer possible. Without it, I was stopping. I was obsessing. I wasn’t writing… which is kind of my job. We eliminated the choke points and it freed me up to do my job. I hope this helps you find balance and productivity in your own creative endeavors!


Apps and Websites I use to manage my life:

Canva (creating book covers, teasers, and otherwise visualizing the stuff I see in my head)

Workflowy (check out Julia Kelly’s post on how to use it here.)

Feedly (an RSS feed so I can stay up to date on all my favorite blogs and websites in one place)

Buffer (scheduling my social media)


Check out all the rest of the stops on the Get it Together Blog Hop and enter the Rafflecopter here!

Technicolor Nightmares

Viginia Woolf

Writers (and artists in general) have a million quotes that all basically come down to the same thing: we feel like lightning rods for the human experience, and as such, we need to find a way to redirect all that feeling, emotion, darkness, and energy somewhere else, or we’ll explode. We live the life of everyone we talk to. We dream of worlds no one has seen. We take all of the invisible, intangible bits and try to give them shape.

Being a person who walks through life feeling this way is complicated and exhausting, mostly because the only people who truly understand what life feels like to us, is other people like us (and we tend to not spend enough time around those types of people!) This is why my life changed when I first set foot inside the hotel at my first RWA National Convention. It was like Dorothy walking into Oz and seeing the world in color for the first time. I didn’t have to explain myself to anyone. I didn’t have to make apologies for needing a few minutes to introvert. I didn’t need to explain that I love socializing and being alone. These were my people. 2,000 of them all in one place. There were other people like me in the universe (a lot of them!) who geeked out over information and reading, who believed in happily ever afters and the power of transformative experiences. These were people who could talk about hair and makeup one minute and the deep underlying meaning of racism and misogyny hidden in popular literature the next.

This is why I treasure the internet. It took me over 30 years to find other writers and artists to connect with. Without the power of the internet I wouldn’t have the network of people and support I’ve been able to gather over the last few years. The internet is amazing. Conventions where you can spend time with people who have similar interests are amazing. The world is huge and it can be very lonely, but it doesn’t have to be anymore. You can find your people.

I’m writing all of this because this weekend took a dark turn. Dark. The kind where being a lightning rod became too much and I really felt like I was on the verge of exploding. Actually, it felt more like a well of sadness so deep and strong was trying to escape from my soul that the only way out was by it spilling out of my heart like a tidal wave. That if I didn’t find a way to let it all out, that sadness would carry me away with it–because it had to get out and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

I don’t know exactly how that much sadness winds up inside me, but I suspect it comes from me being me. I pick up emotions from everyone I meet. I absorb them and take them in. Maybe I store them up so they don’t have to, or maybe I accidentally leave them lying around in a back storage room until the room is full and there’s no where else for the stuff to go. I’m really not sure.

In the past I dealt with this alone, but then I became a writer and I finally had a real outlet for this stuff. I could finally redirect all the feelings and stories I collected each day into a channel that could handle it. Along with that came finding friends who understood me and I was able to build a community of support that I’ve never had before.

And I want everyone who feels this way to know there are people like them out there, and that taking those steps to go to that convention, or meeting, or school is the right step. It can feel overwhelming, but it is worth taking the chance. Not every attempt will work out, but you have to put yourself out there in order to find the one that will. Find your art, find your people. They are out there.

Pisaro quote

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